Al Sharpton’s Actions Wouldn’t Match Words on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Al Sharpton’s Actions Wouldn’t Match Words on Abortion

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
November 20, 2003

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

Washington, DC ( — The Rev. Alfred "Al" Sharpton is a contradictory speaker when it comes to life issues. He may be the only candidate for the Democratic nomination that freely admits that he believes life begins at conception, but wants to give women the "right" to an abortion anyway.

In his book "Al on America" Rev. Sharpton writes that he believes "Life begins when a sperm meets the egg, and that only God should decide whether to take a life."

Yet in the very same publication, he declares that, as President, he "Would only appoint justices to the Supreme Court who are for women having the right to choose whether or not they will have an abortion."

On his presidential campaign website, his number one reason for becoming president is to raise awareness for ideals, explicitly including an anti-death penalty policy. But the tenth and final item on his list of reasons for running is to establish the Equal Rights Amendment for Women (ERA).

Pro-life groups, while supporting the equality of women, oppose the ERA because it has been used to mandate taxpayer funding of abortions.

"We’ve seen the ‘personally opposed¬†but’ politician go down to defeat time after time," Carol Tobias, political director of National Right to Life told "Sharpton will be just one more."

Perhaps it is the Pentecostal minister’s lukewarm stance that has kept him at the bottom of the polls. However, he is clearly recognized as pro-abortion by many.

Barbara Streisand, who has donated thousands of dollars to pro-abortion candidates, made a financial vote of support for Rev. Sharpton in May.

And yet, when pro-abortion groups criticized President Bush’s nomination of California Supreme Court judge Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Rev. Sharpton urged Senate Democrats not to filibuster.

"I don’t agree with her politics. I don’t agree with some of her background," said Sharpton. "But she should get an up-or-down vote."

Sharpton’s campaign declined to provide comment to

Rev. Sharpton has been a controversial figure throughout his career as an activist and politician.

In 1978 he ran for political office for the first time, seeking a seat in the New York Senate. He has organized and lead numerous marches and protests, including a 1987 march that shut down the Brooklyn Bridge, a protest for which he served a short jail sentence in 1987. He unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primaries for the U.S. Senate in 1992 and 1994, and in the mayoral primaries for New York City in 1997.