Dennis Kucinich: Selling His Pro-Life Views for the White House

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 13, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Dennis Kucinich: Selling His Pro-Life Views for the White House

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
October 13, 2003

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of profiles on the Democratic presidential candidates.

Cleveland, OH ( — Dennis Kucinich used to be a friend to the pro-life movement.

While he indicated he would not be a leading spokesman for the pro-life cause, he accumulated a solid 90+% pro-life voting record, according to National Right to Life. The Democrat met eagerly with pro-life leaders in his home state of Ohio and expressed appreciation for their efforts against abortion.

Then, thrust into the national spotlight with his passionately anti-war stand, the Congressman began casting votes that troubled pro-life observers. Not long after, Kucinich began a quixotic quest for the Presidency–and proclaimed himself "pro-choice." His votes have been militantly pro-abortion ever since.

What happened to the one-time boy mayor from Cleveland? Did he sell out his pro-life beliefs in an effort to win the Democratic nomination? Or did he really change his mind? And if it was a true ideological switch, when polls show a number of Americans are abandoning the pro-abortion camp, why is Kucinich running toward it?

In what pro-lifers see as a truly ironic twist, on his Presidential campaign website, Kucinich notes that he is one of the few vegans (non meat-eaters) in Congress, "a dietary decision he credits not only with improving his health, but in deepening his belief in the sacredness of all species."

But pro-life leaders note that his newfound pro-abortion stand indicates he no longer believes in the sacredness of the lives of unborn children.

Kucinich’s new rhetoric mimics some of the oldest lines in the pro-abortion movement, according to long-time pro-life observers. For instance, on his website, Kucinich says, "I have come to believe that it’s not simply about the right to choose, but about a woman’s role in society as being free and having agency and having the ability to make her own decisions. That a woman can’t be free unless she has this right."

Pro-life leaders note that this kind of statement fails to recognize the phenomenon of post-abortion syndrome, where women experience emotional and psychological problems because of their profound grief over the deaths of their unborn children. Rather than being a freeing experience, abortion can lead a woman to feel trapped, according to recent post-abortion research.

Kucinich also shows that he is in lockstep with the pro-abortion lobbying group NARAL with statements such as, "And because I know that the right to choose is under attack — as President, I will only support someone for the Supreme Court if he or she agrees to uphold Roe v. Wade."

Quizzed about his about-face on abortion on the MSNBC program "Hardball with Chris Matthews," Kucinich claimed Congress was moving in the direction of
criminalizing abortion.

When Matthews pressed Kucinich to name a Congressman who supported putting a woman in jail for having an abortion, Kucinich offered the name of Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ). For the record, Smith does not endorse jailing post-abortive women and Kucinich later apologized for claiming he did.

Pro-life groups haven’t been happy with Kucinich’s about face.

"Dennis Kucinich deserves to be thrown out of office for betraying the trust of the people of his district," said Denise Mackura, Executive Director of Ohio Right to Life. "By sacrificing unborn children to advance his political career, he betrayed his populist beliefs as well. The real Dennis has taken off his mask."

Kucinich, the eldest of seven children, first gained prominence in 1977, when he became the youngest person ever to be elected to serve as a big-city mayor. He was 31 when he took over the Cleveland mayor’s office. When the city went bankrupt, Kucinich took the political heat and he failed to win re-election. He did not return to public office until 1994, when he was elected to the Ohio Senate. He later sought and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he still serves.

Kucinich was initially somewhat of an enigma in Congress, siding with the most liberal wing of the Democratic party on defense and economic issues, while consistently joining with Republican conservatives in voting pro-life. But his stands, while perhaps puzzling to the news media, were not surprising to those pro-union Democrats who are also pro-life.

As a result, Kucinich’s switch to the pro-abortion side was particularly troubling for those who saw in him a champion of the little guy–from the womb to the assembly line. Polls indicate Kucinich’s pro-abortion stand has not raised his stature among Democratic Presidential hopefuls–he routinely finishes near the bottom of the pack.

The Kucinich campaign did not respond to’s requests for comment.