|A Publication of the Republican National Coalition for Life||FALL 2004 No. 55|
How the Republican National Platform|
Has Remained Pro-Life
By Colleen Parro
Although no pro-life group had responded to this challenge, it was clearly one that had to be met.
Since the Roe v. Wade decision, thousands of us across the nation had been working unceasingly to get the Republican Party on record, through its county and state Platforms, in support of pro-life principles. We felt that once that happened at every level of Republican participation, we would have a tool by which to hold Republican elected and Party officials accountable. And we were right!
Pro-lifers worked in thousands of campaigns helping to elect pro-life candidates to public office, often replacing those in our own party who supported Roe v. Wade. By 1988, we had tipped the balance of power within the Party in favor of the right to life. To use a military term, we had the hill and we could not allow the pro-abortion crowd to take it from us! We had to defend it. The question was, how?
Kathleen Sullivan, who was president of Illinois Eagle Forum, Penny Pullen who was the pro-life leader in the Illinois Legislature, and I, put our heads together to figure out what to do about the pro-abortion threat posed by Republicans for Choice to all our years of hard pro-life work in the Republican Party. We concluded that Phyllis Schlafly was the only person who could successfully lead our efforts to protect and defend the pro-life plank. After all, she had been a Delegate or Alternate to every Republican National Convention since 1952. She had served on the national Platform Committee, and had forgotten more about Republican Convention politics than most of us will ever know.
We phoned her and laid out the problem. She agreed to lead the fight, and we are so grateful to her for doing so! Gary Bauer and Beverly La Haye lent their support as co-chairmen and I became the director of a brand new organization, the Republican National Coalition for Life (RNC/Life).
1980 was the year of the Primary struggle between Ronald Reagan and George Bush for the Republican Presidential nomination, and it was the first time that the issue of abortion became a defining one in the Republican Party. Reagan had staked out a pro-life position, while Bush, who was proabortion-choice, was backed by the Republican establishment and supporters of Roe v. Wade.
1980 was also the year that Phyllis Schlafly and Congressman Henry Hyde represented Illinois on the National Platform Committee in Detroit. Phyllis engineered a strategy that resulted in the expansion of the language in the pro-life plank, to include "support for congressional efforts to restrict the use of taxpayersí dollars for abortion."
By 1984, with Reagan in office and about to be re-elected in a landslide, pro-life Delegates increased in numbers commensurate with the growth of the Republican Party nationwide. The platform plank was further strengthened to say: "The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We therefore reaffirm our support for a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendmentís protections apply to unborn children. We oppose the use of public revenues for abortion and will eliminate funding for organizations which advocate or support abortion."
At the 1988 convention, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush assumed the Reagan mantle as the nominee. The Platform Committee strengthened the plank again when Committee members adopted language affirming the Partyís "support for the appointment of judges at all levels of the judiciary who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of human life."
By 1990, angered and frustrated by pro-life gains in congressional elections and the increase in legislation restricting the domestic and international funding of abortions, the abortion lobby decided it had to make an effort to take the Republican Party back by activating Republicans for Choice.
The Republican National Coalition for Life went to work. We made a plan and began to prepare for the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas.
Bush 41 was the incumbent nominee. He had moved from a strongly pro-abortion-choice position to one that opposed abortion except for babies conceived through rape and incest. During his term as President, he had been supportive of pro-life legislation. However, with the President 20 points down in the polls, Republicans for Choice and other proabortion groups within the Party felt they had a good chance to reverse the pro-life tide, expecting to weaken the plank, if not remove it altogether, by threatening Bush with the loss of pro-choice voters in November.
RNC/Life urged more grassroots pro-lifers to run for National Delegate. We identified the pro-life members of the National Platform Committee and developed ways to communicate with them. By the time we arrived at the 1992 Convention, we had identified most of the pro-life Delegates and believed that, if a floor fight did occur, we would win it.
The Platform Committee voted to re-adopt the 1988 language. We distributed more than one thousand red straw cowboy hats bearing our logo and thousands more RNC/Life Stickers. If you watched the convention on television, you saw them everywhere in the hall. The other side fell apart as they failed to acquire the six states required to bring a minority report to the floor. We scored a pro-life victory and saved the plank. The pro-life banner was still waving above the "Big Tent."
We followed with a smashing pro-life party called "Definitely Texas" at Houstonís Civic Center which featured Rush Limbaugh and some of the stars of the 1992 conservative firmament.
In 1996, Bill Clinton was seeking a second term and Bob Dole was the presumptive Republican nominee a man who said he hadn't read the Platform and didn't intend to a man who wanted to placate the pro-abortion crowd by inserting a "tolerance" plank into the platform Ė language that would essentially nullify the intent of the prolife pank.
When we met in San Diego, Phyllis and RNC/Life pointed out how counter-productive Doleís demand would be. Our allies Pat Buchanan, Gary Bauer, and Ralph Reed, who, along with Phyllis were dubbed by the Washington Post as "the Fearsome Foursome," worked with us to strengthen support among prolife members of the Platform Committee. Although the other side again threatened a floor fight unless the Platform said we at least "tolerated" their pro-abortion views, they didnít have the votes. Texas had sent 123 Delegates, the majority of whom professed greater loyalty to the pro-life cause than to the partyís nominee. So did Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington! Indeed, the Party had grown and it was the pro-lifers who made it happen! Once again the pro-life language was readopted with no mention of the word "tolerance."
This time, pro-life Delegates wore our white cowboy hats and stickers. What a great sight it was, with all those pro-life symbols being televised throughout the country and around the world! Again, the abortion lobby went home empty-handed and we celebrated with "A Whale of a Party" at San Diegoís Sea World, entertaining nearly 1,000 guests.
In 2000, Philadelphia was the site of the National Convention. George W. Bush, who had stated his desire to build a culture of life in America, was the nominee. The pro-life voting bloc had become crucial to the election of a Republican President. The word was out that Bush wanted the pro-life Plank left intact. Republicans for Choice and the usual gaggle of pro-abortion advocates spent millions of dollars on mailings and media trying to get language "respecting" their anti-life views. RNC/Life countered by establishing the COALITION FOR READOPTION OF THE 1996 PRO-LIFE PLANK, made up of pro-life and pro-family leaders, Members of Congress and other Republican officials. Once again we succeeded, this time with the inclusion of language stating, "we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide." Delegates from most states proudly wore RNC/Life Vests bearing our logo and theme "The LIFE of the Party." Our "Celebrate LIFE 2000" Party at the Philadelphia Union League Club was a fabulous success with 500 Delegates and friends attending.
The pro-life cause enjoyed a total victory at the 2004 Convention in New York. The Bush campaign would not allow any maneuver by the other side to erode the Presidentís support among the pro-life and pro-family voting base. The election promised to be very close, and we represent a percentage of the vote that for years has tipped elections in favor of the candidate who most closely represents the pro-life philosophy.
It was very gratifying to see 30 years of hard work come to fruition. At last it is an acknowledged fact that Republicans who want to win must embrace the pro-life principles in the Republican National Platform. RNC/Life held the fabulous "Life Of The Party" party for pro-life Delegates and friends at the Tavern On The Green in Central Park featuring Ann Coulter, where we honored eight outstanding pro-life Members of Congress with RNC/Lifeís Life of the Party Award.
But, there are clouds on the horizon and they were visible during the full Platform Committee meeting. Cathie Adams who, along with Kelly Shackleford, represented Texas on the Platform Committee, offered an amendment banning research that involves the killing of human embryos. She felt it was important to raise the issue and debate it this year so that the public would know that pro-life Republicans are not satisfied with current administration policy on embryonic stem cell research. But, because an estimated 75% of the Committee members were Republican officials of some sort, the Bush campaign exerted almost absolute control so that nothing went into the Platform that they didnít approve. And they did not want the Party on record in support of a total ban. Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee who chaired the Committee managed to table the amendment so that no debate could take place. In addition, he made a 15 minute speech about stem cell research, making clear his position that embryonic stem cell research must continue and be expanded, albeit without federal funding.
Make no mistake about it. 2008 could turn into a real donnybrook over the fate of the human embryo. Whether the human embryo will be respected and protected under the law as a human subject is, without a doubt, the linchpin of the pro-life cause. The United States must ban any scientific experiments that involve the killing of human beings at their earliest stage of development. The funding issue is irrelevant. The morality of killing living human embryos is not determined by who pays for it. Germany has imposed such a ban because they remember Nuremberg. So should we. The pro-life cause has met its ultimate challenge. If the tiniest humans can be killed to benefit others, no one is safe. Because of this, we are re-dedicating RNC/Life to our mission of holding Republican candidates and office-holders accountable to pro-life principles and we will work even harder to complete the Plank in 2008 by adding language calling for a ban on killing human embryos.
Please consider this an appeal to you from a fellow former embryo for your help and support as we pursue our goal of legal protection for every innocent human life.
After all, "A personís a person, no matter how small."
Republican National Coalition for Life Box 618 Alton Illinois 62002|
618-462-5415 Fax: 618-462-8909 E-mail