Members of Congress Want More Pro-Life Speakers at GOP Convention

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 18, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Members of Congress Want More Pro-Life Speakers at GOP Convention

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 18, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Though President Bush and the Republican Party take strong pro-life positions, members of Congress and pro-life advocates are concerned that the speakers at the upcoming Republican convention won’t be representative of the pro-life views most Republicans hold.

The convention, which begins August 30, includes numerous top Republicans — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, New York Gov. George Pataki, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani — who are pro-abortion and will be featured in key prime-time speaking slots.

Some 127 members of Congress have drafted a letter to the president urging him to request that Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, a longtime pro-life champion, be added to the list of those speaking at the GOP convention.

More than half of the Republicans in the House have signed the letter, including numerous committee chairmen.

Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, who is pro-life, organized the letter. He told the Washington Times that a speech by Congressman Hyde, "it is going to be like Elvis at Memphis."

"Henry’s name has been synonymous with the pro-life movement for the last 30 years," Pence said.

Last month, the convention announced the list of prime-time speakers, approved by Bush advisor Karl Rove.

The list includes pro-life speakers, such as Senator John McCain, who has angered pro-life advocates on other issues, Secretary of Education Rod Paige, who is not well known, and Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, a pro-life Democrat who has endorsed Bush.

Even those members of Congress who are not pro-life support the idea of having Hyde speak.

"He would reflect the sentiment of an awful lot of Americans, and he is a first-class leader," Republican Congressman Jim Leach, who has a mixed voting record on life issues, told the Times.

Though the convention speaker list may not be overwhelmingly pro-life, the heads of the platform committee back the pro-life position and are unlikely to allow changes to the party’s longstanding position against abortion.

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee will chair the platform committee and Colorado Governor Bill Owens and Pennsylvania Congresswoman Melissa Hart are the committee’s co-chairmen.

However, Colleen Parro of the Republican National Coalition for Life, says her groups expects leading Republican abortion advocate Ann Stone to surface at this year’s convention to try to derail the pro-life plank.

The GOP platform calls for a human life amendment protecting the lives of unborn children and says, "[t]he unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed."

The Platform also calls for extension of Fourteenth Amendment protection to unborn children, supports the appointment of judges who respect the sanctity of human life, and opposes the use of taxpayer funds for abortions or for organizations that advocate it.

Stone’s group, Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, has renamed itself Republican Majority for Choice in an effort to claim most Republicans back abortion.

Polls consistently show a strong majority of Republican voters take a pro-life position, along with 43 percent of Democrats.

That strong pro-life view among party regulars tells Congressman Pence that the speakers at the convention ought to represent most Republicans.

"The strength of the Republican majority in America is not in the California governor’s office or in the moderate politics of George Pataki," Pence told the Washington Times. "It’s in the millions of pro-family voters who will campaign for our candidates and turn out on Election Day."