Which candidates are pro-life?

The Republican Party is the Pro-Life Party

The Republican Party is the Pro-Life Party he Republican Party has a century-and-a-half tradition of standing for certain principles and for an identity different from other parties. This difference between the parties is essential to our process of self-government.

The Republican Party was born on the principle that no human being should be considered the property of another. That is our heritage as Republicans, and it would be a fatal mistake to abandon that fundamental precept now.

This does not mean that every Republican thinks alike. The Republican Party is not a fraternity with a hazing procedure for admission. We impose no ideological or religious tests on anyone who calls himself a Republican, and we invite all Americans to vote for our candidates. We do not demand to know the reasons why people vote for Republican candidates, and there is no space in those little boxes on the ballot to record their reasons.

The most famous political debates in American history were the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. During those seven debates up and down the State of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln enunciated the position of the then-new Republican Party that slavery was "a moral, a social and a political wrong," and that he "looks forward to a time when slavery shall be abolished everywhere."

The Democratic candidate, Stephen A. Douglas, argued that the Supreme Court's ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford had settled the slavery question once and for all. Saying "I choose to abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court as they are pronounced," Douglas said that everyone was bound to accept the Court's opinion that the U.S. Constitution protects an individual property right in slaves throughout the United States and its Western territories.

Abraham Lincoln did not dispute the authority of the Supreme Court to decide a particular case, but he forthrightly "opposed that decision as a political rule which shall be binding on the voter." "We do not propose to be bound by it as a political rule," Lincoln said. "We propose to have it reversed if we can, and a new judicial rule established upon this subject." RNC for Life Founded . .

In Quincy, Illinois, Lincoln argued that we should "deal with [slavery] as with any other wrong, insofar as we can prevent its growing any larger, and deal with it that, in the run of time, there may be some promise of an end to it. We have a due regard to the actual presence of it amongst us and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way . . . [but] we oppose it as an evil . . ."

As authority for saying that slavery was "wrong," Lincoln sited our nation's founding document, the Declaration of Independence, which asserts as a "self-evident" truth that each of us is "endowed by their Creator" with unalienable rights of life and liberty, and that government is instituted for the purpose of securing those rights.

In reporting the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the biased press of the 1850s called Lincoln "a dead dog" walking to his "political grave," and reported Douglas's arguments as "logical" and "powerful." Lincoln lost that Senatorial election to Douglas. But two years later, in a rematch against Senator Douglas, Abraham Lincoln was elected our first Republican President -- and the verdict of history is on Lincoln's side.

"The real issue in this controversy," Lincoln said in the Alton debate, is that the Republican Party "looks upon the institution of slavery as a wrong, and [the Democratic Party] does not look upon it as a wrong." Lincoln proclaimed that the slavery issue represented "the eternal struggle between these two principles -- right and wrong."

Abortion is the right-or-wrong issue of our time. We should parallel the words of Abraham Lincoln today and say: The Republican Party looks upon abortion as a wrong, and the Democratic Party does not look upon it as a wrong. That's the crucial difference between the two parties.

In the 1990s, the Republican Party must not adopt the Stephen Douglas position that a wrong Supreme Court decision is infallible and irrevocable. It is our duty to reject the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized the deliberate killing of unborn babies.

The Declaration of Independence does not mention slavery. But, in the Galesburg debate, Lincoln pointed to the clear meaning of the Declaration's words that "all" of us are endowed with "unalienable rights," and he challenged Douglas that "the entire record of the world, from the date of the Declaration of Independence up to three years ago, may be searched in vain for one single affirmation, from one single man, that the negro was not included in the Declaration of Independence."

Likewise, the Declaration of Independence does not mention abortion, but you will search in vain for a single affirmation that the Creator-endowed right to life was to be withheld from a baby until the moment of birth. Every new advance in science, especially the DNA and the ultra-sound photographs of babies in the womb, confirms that the unique, individual identity of each of us is present, human, alive and growing before the mother realizes she is pregnant.

Roe v. Wade, combined with its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, legalized the killing of the unborn baby throughout nine months of pregnancy, and that effectively makes the baby the property of the mother. That proposition is inconsistent with respect for individual human life.

A party platform is a standard, a banner to raise on high, to proclaim our general principles and display our convictions. It is not legislation. Our Platform should be strong on strategic principle, while leaving the details and the tactics to the legislative process.

The pro-life position of the Republican Party Platform was arrived at through the democratic process and has been consistently maintained through seven Republican National Conventions. Speaking through its Platforms adopted in 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000, the Republican Party has consistently upheld the right to life of unborn babies ever since the Roe v. Wade decision. The text has remained remarkably constant ever since 1984 and offers the voters a clear difference from the Democratic Platform.

The media clamor for Republicans to abandon -- or at least modify -- their pro-life position. To do that would not only be wrong, it would not only be a betrayal of our honorable tradition, but it would be politically stupid. Since, in politics, perception is reality, waffling would be perceived as abandonment. The Republican Party cannot afford to make the mistake President George Bush made when he reneged on his 1988 campaign promise ("Read my lips -- no new taxes"). More importantly, the pro-life constituency has been a major, even decisive, factor in the unprecedented growth of the Republican Party in the 1980s and 1990s. Dozens of Republicans in Congress were elected only because they were steadfast in their pro-life position.

Despite naive hopes, abortion cannot be removed from public controversy. It is a moral issue because it confronts fundamental issues of right and wrong, of life and death. It is a social issue because it goes to the most deeply held of human relationships and our respect for the worth of our fellow human beings. It is a political issue because, every year, dozens of bills pertaining to abortion are introduced into the Congress and state legislatures, and public officials must vote aye or nay on those bills.

Furthermore, abortion is a fundamental issue that affects so many other current problems. Roe v. Wade is the fountainhead of the now-imperial federal judiciary that has violated, not only the rights of the unborn, but American rights of self-government. Roe has led activist federal judges to presume to overturn state laws and referenda designed to protect babies, mothers and parents from the most egregious demands of the abortion lobby, including partial birth abortions. Abortion is a perennial issue in the appropriations process. The legislative process is manipulated every year to secure the spending of taxpayers' money for thousands of abortions.

The Republican Party must continue to uphold the principle that every human being, born and unborn, young and old, healthy and disabled, has a fundamental, individual right to life. Like Abraham Lincoln, we rely on the Declaration of Independence for our authority to assert that every individual human being has a Creator-endowed right to life, and that it is the duty of government to protect that right. In the tradition of Abraham Lincoln, we assert that no human being, born or unborn, can be considered the property of another, and we repudiate the Roe v. Wade decision which presumed to give some individuals the so-called "right" to terminate the life of others.

(Updated 2001)

Republican National Coalition for Life    Box 618    Alton    Illinois 62002
618-462-5415    Fax: 618-462-8909    E-mail