Which candidates are pro-life?

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Feb. 21, 2007
(The morning after the 2008 Republican National Convention, that is)

Pro-life Republicans are being wined and dined, courted and wooed by an ever-growing assortment of candidates for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. They all want us to think they are pro-life, or at least pro-life enough to garner our support in this or that presidential primary. Those who are flipping and flopping serve as testimony to the power and influence pro-life activists have within the Republican Party. They need us. They need us to win the nomination and, because the American people are split right down the middle, they need us to win back the White House.

While it’s nice to know we’re needed, and that finally the establishment politicians have been forced to recognize that, let’s be careful to not get carried away. There are a few true-blue pro-lifers seeking the Republican nomination, and there are others who will say what they have to say to get where they want to go. We have to let them know that we are not interested in platitudes. We want to know what they are actually going to DO to advance the cause of life.

The case of Senator John McCain comes to mind. Senator McCain, who justifies abortion for babies conceived through rape or incest and who supports research that requires the killing of human embryos, visited South Carolina on Sunday, February 18, where he told a crowd of 800 in Spartanburg, “I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned.” (The Dallas Morning News, 2/19/07) His PR people made certain that that quote appeared in news items across the country.

The February 20, 2007 USA Today editorial had this to say:

“The three Republican front runners — former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuiliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — have at various times held positions at odds with conservative orthodoxy. All three are adjusting those positions now, generating what might be called “that giant sucking-up sound.”

As a candidate for mayor of New York, Giuliani embraced abortion rights. Now he promises to appoint “strict constructionist” justices to the Supreme Court, who would presumably be more likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.

When running for president in 2000, McCain said that if Roe were overturned, thousands of women would have illegal and dangerous abortions. Now he says he wants it overturned.

In an unsuccessful 1994 bid for the Senate in Massachusetts, Romney went out of his way to court gay voters and to tout his pro-choice positions. After his election as governor in 2002, his positions began to shift. Now he says that Roe should be overturned and that he no longer supports anti-discrimination legislation directed at gays and lesbians.

These inelegant shifts pose an interesting question for Republican primary voters: Just who are they voting for — the politicians these candidates say they will be or the ones they have actually been?”

Our job at RNC/Life is to help you answer that question.

When politicians get in front of a largely pro-life audience, opposition to Roe v. Wade is a very big button to push. After all, the consultants tell them if you say you want to see Roe overturned they’ll assume you are pro-life. The fact is, Senator McCain’s position on life issues cannot be accurately described as pro-life and is inconsistent with the stated principles in the pro-life plank of the Republican National Platform, which says in part, “The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”

  • We are about respecting and protecting every innocent unborn child, no matter what the circumstances of his or her conception.

  • The right to life is fundamental and individual, yet Senator McCain, Mittt Romney, and others who support killing human embryos for research would infringe on that right.

If the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade it would remove from the federal courts the ability to interfere with state laws restricting and regulating the practice of abortion, and that would be a good thing, but it would not stop one abortion. It would, however, restore to state legislatures the power to enact laws prohibiting abortion. The pro-life movement in every state would then have to embark upon a long road leading to that goal. The federal role in the pro-life battle would change as we would ask Congress to use its spending power to exclude abortion, and those who perform or advocate it, from every federally funded program. Of course, this would require a majority of committed pro-life Members of Congress.

Politicians who advocate that Roe be overturned but support the killing of human beings at the embryonic stage of development are simply playing games with pro-life voters. Politicians who claim to be pro-life, but justify abortion for some babies under some circumstances, are simply telling the wealthy pro-abortion wing of the Republican Party that they can be comfortable opening their coffers to them, since their candidacy represents no concrete threat to legal abortion.

For a presidential candidate to be pro-life is to pledge that he will work for laws and public policies that result in restoring respect for, and legal protection of, innocent human beings from the moment of conception. It is to actively engage in moving our society toward restoring personhood to the unborn. It means a commitment to prohibit embryonic stem cell research and experiments in human cloning. It means there is no way to justify the killing of an innocent child, no matter how small.

So, when the politicians come knocking at your door, remember to ask the hard questions. Don’t accept the cop-out that it’s all about overturning Roe, or that it’s all about the appointment of judges. Those concerns represent key elements within our great and noble cause, but there is much more. What we must look for is a nominee who has demonstrated a commitment to the pro-life cause and has shown that he, as President of the United States, has the resolve to work diligently, using every power available to him, to restore legal protection of the right to life.

There will be pro-life voters who choose to support a candidate who falls short of that mark. We ask only one thing of them — please don’t call him “pro-life” — and don’t expect him to answer your phone calls the morning after the election.

Never forget that you were once an embryo!

Republican National
Coalition for Life

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