Florida Republican Senate Candidates Get Pro-Life Group’s Endorsement

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Republican Senate Candidates Get Pro-Life Group’s Endorsement

by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
July 21, 2004

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — National Right to Life’s political action committee is weighing in on one of the nation’s most critical U.S. Senate races. The PAC has endorsed candidates Mel Martinez and Johnnie Byrd in Florida’s Republican primary.

"Mel Martinez and Johnnie Byrd have been consistent in their pro-life positions. We encourage pro-lifers in Florida to support either of these men, and we look forward to working with one of them in the U.S. Senate," said NRLC political director Carol Tobias.

The pro-life organization praised both men for their "pro-life leadership."

Both Martinez and Byrd support the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research funding put into place by President George W. Bush in 2001 — something that separated them from the other candidates.

Embryonic stem cell research involves the killing of human embryos for scientific experiments. NRLC calls the research "unacceptable and unethical."

Martinez served as housing secretary under Bush and is former president of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers.

"[I] believe that life begins at conception, and it’s worth protecting from that point forward," Martinez said during a conference call with reporters.

Eight Republicans are vying for the GOP nomination in the Aug. 31 Florida primary. Political analysts believe that more than one in three voters are likely to identify themselves as social conservatives, meaning that pro-life issues could play a key role in the Republican contest.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Byrd, Wayne Garcia, told the Florida press, "We’re certainly willing to take either a co-endorsement or a single endorsement. Conservative right-to-life supporters are a group we always thought that we’d have a chance to appeal to."

NRLC commended Byrd for his work as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, NRLC expressed disappointment with another candidate, former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, for his support of embryonic stem cell research.

"We are very unhappy with the recent decision that he made to support stem cell research using stem cells from human embryos," Tobias said in an article in the St. Petersburg Times. "That really is a position that we find unacceptable."

While McCollum identifies himself as pro-life, he wants to see embryonic stem cell research expanded, saying he agrees with former First Lady Nancy Reagan on the issue.

"I am pro-life," McCollum said in a statement last month. "But I also believe that a critical part of being pro-life is helping the living."

Opponent Martinez, however, has accused McCollum of retreating "from his previously held pro-life position."

Martinez called the use of embryonic stem cells "a very difficult issue." But, he added, "the bottom line is that when you believe in life, the destruction of one human life is never acceptable. That’s a position, frankly, that I believe must be consistently held."

Martinez noted that his own stand on stem cell research is just the latest example of how his philosophy is similar to that of the President.

NRLC and other pro-life groups point out that embryonic stem cell research represents an assault on human embryos and is therefore never morally justified. They also note that it has failed to produce any credible results, while adult stem cell research, which does not involve embryo destruction, shows incredible promise.

All the candidates in Florida’s Democratic Senate primary support the expansion of embryonic research and back abortion.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life – https://www.nrlc.org