Former Oregon Senator Says Pro-Life Republicans Hurt the Party

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 2, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Former Oregon Senator Says Pro-Life Republicans Hurt the Party

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
October 2, 2003

Salem, OR ( — Controversial former U.S. Senator Bob Packwood is making headlines with his claim that the Oregon Republican Party is out-of-step with the electorate
because it does not support legal abortion.

At a recent fundraising reception for the state GOP, Packwood said he told his fellow Republicans, "Oregonians are saying women ought to have a right to choose, and the Republican Party, in the public’s mind, is saying ‘no.’ Don’t you think there’s a correlation?"

But a state pro-life leader says that Packwood is simply angered by the fact that pro-life Republican candidates in the Western state are managing to win elective office.

"The only GOP debate in Oregon is that pro-abortion Republicans are mad that pro-life Republicans outnumber them," said Gayle Atteberry, Executive Director of Oregon Right to Life.

Packwood contends that the Republican Party’s opposition to abortion cost the GOP the Governor’s office five elections in a row. He claims that the Oregon GOP is out of sync with voters when it comes to social issues.

Packwood was quoted as saying, "If the purpose is to win statewide general elections, they can’t do it if they’re going to be … and adverse to a woman’s right to choose. They won’t succeed. Will you have an anomaly? Yes. Some will get elected. But will you win regularly? No, not if you’re perceived having those positions."

But Oregon Right to Life strongly disagrees with Packwood’s contention that, in order to win, Republican candidates must support abortion.

"Packwood left out a few details in his diatribe, Atteberry said. "Details such as: two of the GOP gubernatorial losses he refers to were pro-abortion Republicans; every Republican member of the Oregon legislature votes pro-life, many of them having won their seats BECAUSE they are pro-life; Packwood and his political consultant wife are both avidly pro-abortion and always support a pro-abortion GOP candidate who ends up losing. He has a bad case of sour grapes," Atteberry said.

Meanwhile, a leader with the Christian Coalition also decried Packwood’s remarks.

In an interview with the Portland Tribune newspaper, Lou Beres, executive director of the Oregon Christian Coalition, said, "Senator Packwood is out of step and out of line. We’re in a new Oregon. Evidently, his retirement has affected his thinking. He seems like he wants to destroy the unity (state Chairman) Kevin Mannix wants."

Packwood made his remarks at a $250-a-person fundraiser designed to recognize former GOP office-holders and promote party unity.

The pro-abortion Republican resigned from the U.S. Senate in 1995 following allegations of sexual harassment.

Packwood’s promotion of abortion is legendary.

According to the National Right to Life website, back in 1971, long before Roe v. Wade, the Oregon Senator introduced a bill intended to legalize abortions nationwide. Pro-life activists point out that, although his national stature has diminished in the wake of his sex scandal, his support of abortion has not waned.

Pro-life leaders also note that the Oregon GOP’s lone statewide office-holder, U.S. Senator Gordon Smith, is pro-life, although he has pledged not to be a single-issue candidate.

Related web sites:
Oregon Right to Life –