Governor Haley Barbour clarified his stance on a controversial abortion and social issues “truce” Governor Mitch Daniels advocated, that he supported, and he plugged his pro-life views at a national conservative conference.
Barbour, a pro-life Republican from Mississippi, addressed the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday. The governor maintains an impressive pro-life record and is frequently mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate.
In his speech at CPAC today, Barbour touted his pro-life credentials and commended his state for its status as one of the safest places in the country for unborn children. Mississippi has one of the nation’s lowest abortion rates. Although there were several potential presidential hopefuls over the course of the three-day conference, few devoted as much time to pro-life issues as Governor Barbour.
Despite his remarkable pro-life record, Governor Barbour drew criticismafter making comments last year to the Daily Caller seemingly diminishing the importance of pro-life issues. Barbour said, at the time, “Any issue that takes people’s eye off of unemployment, job creation, economic growth, taxes, spending, deficits, debts is taking your eye off the ball.” The governor also said he agreed with the sentiment of the “truce” Daniels put forward saying pro-life and other social issues should be put aside while the next president focuses on fixing the beleaguered economy.
“But if somebody goes to campaign for governor candidate x, I would hope that somebody would stay focused on the issues that matter to the campaign: jobs, the economy, taxes, spending, debt, deficits,” Barbour continued. “You run down rabbit trails, you’re wasting— you’re using up valuable resources that could be used to talk to people about what they care about.”
After the CPAC speech, Governor Barbour sat down for an exclusive interview with Steven Ertelt, Editor of LifeNews.com, to discuss pro-life issues.
Asked to clarify and explain his position, though he did not say as much directly, Barbour appeared to differentiate between the pro-life policy positions he would promote as president and the focus of the message of a potential presidential campaign.
“To win, we have to talk about the issues people care about,” he said of a potential campaign for president. “Campaigns ought to be on the issues people have on their minds. People voted in 2010 on Obama’s economic policies, energy issue and of course healthcare.”
Barbour said social issues did not have to be set aside or put on the back burner — “I don’t believe that at all. Social issues do matter.”
The governor said that, when it comes to abortion, “more people are pro-life than pro-abortion. Most Americans are in the middle. They don’t want abortion on demand, federal funding for abortion or late term abortion.”
In the interview, Barbour reaffirmed his commitment to the right to life starting at what he believes is the beginning of human life.
“Look, I’m not a physician or a theologian, I don’t know when life begins but I cant figure out another time besides conception. We’re talking about a person and that person has the same rights that you and I got,” he said.
If he were to become president, Barbour said he would codify the Mexico City Policy into law to ensure American tax dollars are not used to fund groups that promote or perform abortions overseas. One of the Obama Administration’s first actions after inauguration was to overturn the policy. Currently, the policy needs to be reinstated by each successive administration and codification would make the provisions of the pro-life Mexico City Policy permanent.
According to Barbour, as president he would nominate individuals to the Supreme Court who strictly interpret the Constitution, which includes the right to life for all Americans, including the unborn. Barbour expressed concern that four more years of an Obama Administration could yield more pro-abortion justices and make the court into a “driving engine for the Left.”
On the issue of stem cell research, Barbour told LifeNews.com, “President Bush was right” in signing an executive order to prevent scientific research that requires the destruction of human embryos. Barbour noted the great success of adult stem cell research and believes more should be done to advance stem cell research that does not take human lives.
As governor, Barbour signed into law a bill that would prohibit abortions in Mississippi should the Supreme Court ever overturn Roe v. Wade. In addition, the bill allows mothers the opportunity to view an ultrasound prior to an abortion. After the passage of the Mississippi ultrasound law, Mary Spaulding Balch the Director of State Legislation at the National Right to Life Committee told LifeNews.com, “We commend Governor Haley Barbour for supporting women and their unborn children by signing this bill into law.”
Governor Barbour implemented a tax credit for adoption and instituted some of the nation’s strictest regulations for abortion facilities. This is particularly notable in light of the tragedy in Philadelphia where the abortion industry went unchecked and resulted in the arrest of abortionist Kermit Gosnell for the murder of a woman and seven born children.