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Santorum: Newt Gingrich Wasn’t a Strong Pro-Life Leader

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 12/9/11 7:22 PM

National, Politics

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Friday that he doesn’t recall former Speaker Newt Gingrich leading the battle on pro-life issues during the time to two lawmakers served together in the House.

Before Santorum became a Pennsylvania senator and before Gingrich became the widely-recognized House Speaker, the two were Republican members of the House. During a conference call with bloggers on Friday afternoon, he told LifeNews that he doesn’t recall Gingrich as a strong pro-life leader during that time.

Although Gingrich compiled a 98% pro-life voting record, Santorum said “he was not a pro-life warrior, that was not his gig.”

“He was someone who was interested in reducing taxes and Reaganomics but he was never someone who would go to the well as a member and fight the wars on the pro-life front,” Santorum said. “As a leader, one of the things he would stress is to work on issues with broad support and bipartisan support.”

Santorum said Gingrich’s lack of a concerted push on pro-life issues was seen during his days as Speaker when the Contract With America failed to include any key pro-life initiatives despite its other conservative agenda items that resonated with voters.

“Nothing got in the Contract unless it had overwhelming public support,” Santorum recalled, “we were not promoting [what Gingrich would consider] hard-edged conservative ideas. There was always an attempt to put the social issues which were controversial at the back of the bus.” Santorum said Gingrich wanted to “run up the show and show big changes” but was not interested in promoting political issues “that were more controversial.”

During his Speakership, Gingrich presided over the battle to enact a ban on partial-birth abortions but Santorum said that issue eventually had wide public support — “it scored off the charts” — so Gingrich was willing to put it front and center.

LifeNews asked Santorum about the recent dustup involving Gingrich’s interview in which he defined the beginning of human life as implantation — only to later say that he truly believed it to be conception, which he defined as fertilization.

Santorum said Gingrich “used the wrong term — he said ‘I believe’ and is not a belief, it is a fact. It is a fact that life begins at fertilization. You have a unique DNA code that makes a unique human being.”

Santorum said the problem is that the pro-life movement gives up the scientific validity of the argument when pro-life people phrase the beginning of human life as a belief.

“I think we concede ground when we use this term that sounds like faith as opposed to a fact,” he said. “They [abortion advocates] want to marginalize those who talk about life to the realm of belief versus science.”

LifeNews reporter Andrew Bair has extensively profiled Gingrich’s pro-life views. Gingrich voted in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortion. (President Clinton ultimately vetoed the bill and a ban was not signed into law until President Bush took office.) Gingrich also voted to cut federal funding to organizations that perform or promote abortions abroad, including the United Nations Population Fund, which is complicit in carrying out China’s One Child Policy. In addition, Gingrich supported restrictions on funding for assisted suicide.

In the 2012 presidential race, Gingrich has pledged to appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court, end taxpayer funding of abortion, de-fund Planned Parenthood and sign into law a federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  Gingrich is also committed to repealing the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law, which contains massive abortion funding and threats of rationing.

Santorum also discussed on the call a recent question he received at a campaign forum on his involvement in promoting the ban on partial-birth abortions. He defended his efforts saying that partial-birth abortions must be banned to the critical importance of human life and that there must be a line in the sand showing that human life doesn’t begin at birth and that unborn children deserve legal protection before then.

He said polling data proved that the partial-birth abortion ban had a tremendous positive impact in terms of shifting public opinion in a pro-life direction.