|A Publication of the Republican National Coalition for Life||January/February 2000 - No. 32|
Countdown to Convention 2000|
Will Republicans Reaffirm The Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia?
At this writing, the apparent front runner for the Republican presidential nomination is Republican Governor George W. Bush of Texas. But in recent weeks Senator John McCain of Arizona has gained momentum in New Hampshire where he is threatening Bush's lead in the polls. In light of Bush's lackluster performances in the debates held thus far, contrasted with the command of critical national issues shown by his pro-life conservative opponents Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes, and the the war hero image of former POW McCain, political commentators are now suggesting that despite Bush's unprecedented campaign war chest and support from Republican Party officialdom, he could end up an also-ran.
George Bush and John McCain share similar views on the life issues. In the case of abortion, both justify it for some babies because of the circumstances surrounding their conception (rape and incest exceptions). Both support minimalist efforts to regulate the practice of abortion such as parental notification and informed consent laws. Neither is an advocate of restoring legal protection of the fundamental right to life, and both would require exceptions to a human life amendment. Since the exception makes the rule, neither of these men is a threat to legal abortion.
When it comes to the over-arching principle that human life is sacred from conception until natural death, both men are found wanting. Senator McCain has voted in favor of most pro-life bills, which have historically been efforts to regulate or deny funding for abortion, but he has been a strong supporter of fetal tissue experimentation. In the Senate, he helped lead the effort to lift the ban on the transplantation of fetal tissue obtained from the victims of induced abortion. The ban was lifted by the passage of the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, a law that has led to trafficking in the organs and bodies of aborted babies for scientific experiments.
George Bush has not addressed the issue of fetal tissue experiments, nor has he responded to a detailed letter to him from your editor, Colleen Parro, RNC/Life director, asking how he would deal with many of the critical bioethical issues pertaining to reproductive technologies, human embryo experiments and cloning. These are critical matters of public policy that will confront the President at the beginning of the 21st Century.
At this point, we don't know how events will play out on the road to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, PA in 2000. What we do know is this - despite who the presidential nominee is, the Republican Party must remain committed through its platform, to the principles expressed in our beloved Declaration of Independence - that the right to life comes from God, not the state, and that government exists to secure that right, as the first right among others.
There are some in our Party who, because of their pro-abortion-choice statements and actions, do not believe in the principles of the Declaration, and therefore would presumably not have signed their names to it had they had the opportunity 224 years ago in Philadelphia.
However, we think that the vast majority of Delegates to the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia will wish to echo our Fore-fathers through the instrument of the Republican National Platform, and vote to reaffirm the inspired principles in the founding document of our country: "We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men . . ."
Therefore, on the occasion of the Republican Party Convention in the historic city where our nation was born, we challenge the Delegates to reaffirm the Spirit of Philadelphia - 1776 and we propose that the words of the Declaration be incorporated into the Republican Party Platform in the following manner:
In the spirit of America's founding document, the Declaration of Independence signed 224 years ago in Philadelphia, we affirm the self-evident truth that "all men ... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life ...."
Therefore, every human being, from conception to natural death has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.
The Declaration further states "That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men. . ."
In the tradition of our Founding Fathers, and in an effort to once again secure the right to life, we support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and and sanctity of innocent human life.
The signers of the Declaration pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in pursuit of the realization, for all of us, of liberty and justice derived from those principles. We trust that Republican Delegates in 2000 will be moved by the spirit of Philadelphia so that the Republican Party will remain on record in support of justice and legal protection for the tiniest members of the human family.
Republican Governors, the majority of whom support George W. Bush for the Republican Presidential nomination, have said they intend to help frame policy statements they want included in the 2000 Republican National Platform. In a Washington Post story by David Broder and Dan Balz (8/10/99), Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating said that, if the governors have their way, the platform will reflect the party's "basic conservatism" but express it in a way that "the average American can feel comfortable with." "Not everything has to be in your face," he added. In addition to Keating, some of the Governors involved in the platform plan are Utah's Mike Leavitt, William Janklow of South Dakota, Montana's Marc Racicot, and John Engler of Michigan.
More recent information has come to us through informed sources that Governor John Engler of Michigan, an ardent Bush supporter, plans to represent Michigan Republicans as the male member of the Platform Committee at the Republican National Convention. (The Platform Committee is comprised of a man and a woman from each state and the territories.) It is also rumored that Governor Engler plans to Chair the full Platform Committee.
We have reason to believe that Governors Keating and Engler, who are both Catholic and pro-life, along with the others, may be thinking of trying to "unify the Party" by caving in to the demands of the monied northeastern pro-abortion liberals who have invested so much money in the Bush campaign, by trying to water-down the pro-life platform plank. For instance, they could rewrite it in such a way that it expresses some "pro-life sentiment," but eliminates the commitment to a human life amendment to the Constitution and extension of 14th Amendment protections to the unborn, the long awaited goal of the abortion lobby. It may be their view that pro-life conservative Delegates, faced with a Platform Committee Chairman who is Catholic and has an outstanding pro-life record, might follow his lead and support a weakened pro-life plank under the illusion that it would help Republicans win in November. If that is their misguided intent, we remind the Governors that the fundamental right to life is not a political football to be tossed around. Government protection of the God-given right to life is inherent in the Declaration of Independence. Either they believe in those principles or they do not. And if they do not, they will not deserve to win in November.
PENNSYLVANIA Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania is being touted as a strong contender for the Vice Presidential nomination. Governor Ridge is attractive, articulate, and pro-abortion-choice.
A nominal Catholic, Ridge's view that a mother should have the legal right to kill her unborn baby earned a strong rebuke from Donald Trautman, Bishop of Erie, PA. In 1998, at the close of the annual meeting of Catholic Bishops where, by a vote of 217 - 30 they adopted a document called "Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics," Bishop Trautman told Gov. Ridge to no longer appear at Catholic events in his Erie Diocese.
Mr. Ridge served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 until he was elected Governor in 1994. During his entire tenure in Congress, he supported the Roe v. Wade decision. His support for the pro-abortion agenda includes his vote for taxpayer funding of foreign organizations that provide abortions (1991), for allowing experiments on the bodies of babies obtained through induced abortions (1991), for lifting the ban on federal finding of fetal tissue research (1992), for lifting the ban on abortions performed on U.S. military bases overseas (1992), against requiring federally funded family planning clinics to give 48 hour parental notice before performing an abortion on a minor (1993), for a D.C. Appropriations Bill that allowed taxpayer funding of abortions (1993), and for the Freedom of Access of Clinic Entrances Act that imposes harsh penalties on pro-life protestors, including peaceful demonstrators (1994).
In 1996, Governor Ridge joined Govs. Christine Todd Whitman (NJ), George Pataki of (NY), John Rowland (CT), William Weld (MA), and Pete Wilson (CA) in calling for removal of the pro-life plank from the Republican National Platform. Katherine Q. Seelye, writing for the New York Times on 5/16/96 reported that, "Ridge said he had been 'out there', on changing the plank in advance of his more 'high pro-file' colleagues. 'It would be my preference to take it out or modify the language to be more inclusive,' Ridge told reporters. . ."
Governor Tom Ridge does not pass muster with pro-life, conservative base of the Party. If he or someone else with his views, were to be nominated for vice president it would cause irreparable harm to Republican chances to win the White House in November. Party leaders would do well to look elsewhere.
While Party rules differ from state-to-state, many of you will have the privilege of voting for candidates running for Delegate to the National Convention. Some will be elected at state conventions or caucuses, others will run on the primary ballot. In the cases of primary election of Delegates, please call your local Republican Party Headquarters to find out who the candidates are. Get their phone numbers. Call them and directly ask each one to pledge to support the inspired principles of the Declaration of Independence as expressed in the pro-life plank. Make copies of the resolution (see the insert in this Report), mail or fax it to the candidates, and call them back for their response.
In states where Delegates are elected at a convention or caucus, try to be a Delegate to the convention yourself and urge your pro-life friends to do so too. Take copies of the resolution with you (find out from Party headquarters whether you must submit it in triplicate or if any other rules apply) and introduce it at every convention level in your state. Most states have precinct conventions, county or district conventions and finally, a state convention. Make sure the pro-life resolution is introduced and passed at every level by serving as a Delegate yourself.
Make it clear that, in order to gain your vote and the votes of pro-life conservatives, candidates for National Delegate must agree with the principles of the Declaration of Independence and with the pro-life platform resolution that reflects those principles.
Republican National Coalition for Life Box 618 Alton Illinois 62002|
618-462-5415 Fax: 618-462-8909 E-mail