Last week, Pennsylvania Republicans chose conservative businessman Tom Smith as their nominee for US Senate to face incumbent Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (D) in November’s general election. The selection of Smith establishes a clear contrast on the life issues between the Republican and Democratic candidates. While Casey has earned a reputation as a pro-life sell-out, Smith strongly supports legal protection for unborn children.
While Casey’s website does not even mention pro-life issues, Smith’s website features this statement: “Tom Smith is pro-life, period. He will work in the United States Senate to protect our most vulnerable citizens. He will not be afraid to hold officials in the Executive Branch and prospective judges accountable for their views and actions.” Smith has also publicly committed to repealing the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law. (Casey voted for the law.)
Despite campaigning on a pro-life platform during his campaign for Senate in 2006, Senator Bob Casey, Jr. has achieved a mere 44% pro-life voting record according to the National Right to Life Committee. Not factored into that rating are also the votes Casey cast to appoint pro-abortion Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court. One of the most important duties for a pro-life senator is to confirm justices who will interpret the Constitution in a strict constructionist manner and not legislate from the bench as the Court did in Roe vs. Wade.
Senator Casey has also drawn the ire of pro-life advocates for voting to maintain federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. His father, Governor Bob Casey Sr., a legitimately pro-life Democrat, fought Planned Parenthood all the way to the US Supreme Court. Senator Casey stood with Planned Parenthood. Gov. Casey was denied a speaking slot at the 1992 Democratic National Convention for his pro-life views. Senator Casey has done nothing to combat the pro-abortion position of his party. In fact, he was one of the first vocal supporters of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, despite a well-documented pro-abortion record in the US Senate and the Illinois State Senate.
Senator Casey has a mixed record on abortion funding. He voted to cut funding to the United Nations Population Fund, which bolsters the efforts of the Chinese government to carry out the pro-forced abortion One Child Policy. However, Casey has voted to undermine the pro-life Mexico City Policy, which prohibits federal funding for organizations that promote or provide abortions overseas. In addition, Casey voted to expand abortion funding when he cast a deciding vote in favor of Obamacare.
Casey defends each of his abortion funding votes by inaccurately depicting the scope of the pro-life Hyde Amendment. Casey invokes the Hyde Amendment at any point that his votes against the Mexico City Policy, for Obamacare or for Planned Parenthood funding are called into question. In Casey’s world of delusion, the Hyde Amendment does not apply only to funds allocated by the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services but rather constitutes an entire government-wide ban. For Casey, the adoption of the Hyde Amendment each year exempts him from any blame for casting pro-abortion votes.
Casey ignored the concerns raised by pro-life organizations like the National Right to Life Committee when it was revealed that the Obama healthcare bill contained abortion funding. He also conveniently ignored the fact that the Hyde Amendment does not apply to the new streams of funding created under the law.
Throughout the course of the primary season, Tom Smith drew a contrast with Senator Casey on abortion, calling himself “100% pro-life.” Since winning the Republican nomination, Smith has quickly earned the support of his former rivals. On Monday, second place finisher, pro-life former State Rep. Sam Rohrer called on his supporters to back Smith in the race against Casey. (In 2010, when Rohrer unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for governor against Tom Corbett, he never issued an endorsement of his primary rival and did little to quell a write-in campaign among his most fervent supporters.)
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In an email to his supporters, Rohrer said, “I congratulate Tom Smith on his victory. He is now our Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in the general election. I have offered him my support and counsel and I encourage others to support him as we endeavor to take back the Senate from the control of Harry Reid and his enablers.”
In the victory speech following his primary victory, Smith echoed the sentiments of pro-life advocates when he declared, “This election will be about Senator Casey’s record.” While the race continues to favor Senator Casey, the only way Smith will have a chance is if he successfully raises awareness about Casey’s record, including his anemic 44% pro-life rating. Smith added, “In his six years in the Senate, Casey has been President Obama’s most trusted ally in massively expanding government, ballooning the debt, and eroding our freedoms.”