Pro-Abortion Senator Robert Byrd Dies; Death Affects Election, Kagan Hearings
by Steven Ertelt
June 28, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Senator Robert Byrd, the pro-abortion West Virginia Democrat who held the title of the longest serving senator in the history of the Senate, passed away early Monday morning. His death could affect both the 2010 election picture as well as the hearings on pro-abortion Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
Byrd was hospitalized on Sunday and his staff described him as seriously ill.
His passing leaves Democrats in the Senate with 58 votes, two shy of the 60-vote majority they need to stop filibusters, such as one Republicans may mount against Kagan.
Byrd was first elected in 1953 and, after the Roe v. Wade decision, with Congress casting votes on abortion, he frequently took the pro-abortion side.
In his last election in 2006, Byrd campaign spokesman Mark Ferrell pointed to his handful of pro-life votes as reasons to re-elect the senator. He said Byrd voted to ban partial-birth abortions and supported President Bush’s two nominees to the Supreme Court, who enjoyed support from pro-life groups.
"Like most West Virginians, Senator Byrd abhors the idea of abortion," Ferrell claimed in comments to AP. "Senator Byrd stands up for West Virginia values and that won’t change no matter who endorses which
However, according to the National Right to Life Committee, Byrd has just a 33 percent pro-life voting record in 2005-2006, only a 36 percent pro-life voting record from 2003-2004 and scored a 0 percent pro-life rating from 2001-2002.
More recently, Byrd had a 0 percent pro-life voting record in 2009-2010 as he voted for the health care bill that contained massive taxpayer funding of abortions and against the Mexico City Policy that prevents tax-funding of groups that promote and perform abortions in other nations.
Byrd also voted against enforcing the Kemp-Kasten anti-coercion law against the UNFPA and prevent sending millions in tax dollars to the agency because it is intimately involved with the one-child forced abortion policy in China.
How Byrd’s death will alter the Kagan hearings or the Senate landscape after the 2010 elections remains to be seen.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a pro-life Democrat, is empowered by state law to appoint a successor but it is not clear whether he will be able to appoint a replacement who will merely serve until a special election is held or whether he can appoint someone to serve the final two years of Byrd’s term.
However it works out, Manchin is likely to appoint a caretaker replacement who will ultimately set him up to run for a special election soon or a full term in 2012.
His likely opponent in either race would be Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the daughter of former Gov. Arch Moore, who is pro-abortion but frequently votes for abortion limits in the House.
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