Senator With Mixed Abortion Record Seeks to Lead Senate Democrats

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 4, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator With Mixed Abortion Record Seeks to Lead Senate Democrats Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 4, 2004

Washington, DC ( — With the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Senate Democrats not only lost their party leader but a pro-abortion senator who was frequently blamed for holding up pro-life legislation and President Bush’s judicial nominations.

Now, a senator with a mixed voting record on abortion is throwing his name in the hat to be considered for the top Democrat post.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid said Wednesday he would seek the minority leader position.

He moved a step closer to winning a party vote for the leadership spot when pro-abortion Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut said he would not run. Dodd said he would support Reid in the December vote despite initial support from some colleagues.

Reid, who currently holds the number two spot among Senate Democrats, has often voted for pro-life legislation.

During the 108th session of Congress, Reid accumulated a 55 percent pro-life voting record from the National Right to Life Committee.

Senator Reid was one of only a handful of Senate Democrats to oppose an amendment initially added to the ban on partial-birth abortions that expressed the Senate’s support for the Roe v. Wade decision that allow unlimited abortions.

Reid also voted in favor of the ban on partial-birth abortions and supported a measure Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry opposed that requires criminals to be charged with two crimes when they kill or injure an unborn child in an assault against a pregnant woman.

However, Reid took a stronger pro-life position earlier in his career and the percentage of times he votes pro-life has diminished in recent years.

Leading pro-life advocates caution that Reid, who is being touted by some media outlets as pro-life, is not a friend of the pro-life community.

"Although casting some pro-life votes, Senator Reid is no ally of the pro-life movement," Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, told

"He has often attempted to gut or block pro-life legislation," Johnson said.

Though he voted in favor of Laci and Conner’s Law, Johnson pointed to Reid’s vote in favor of an alternative measure put forward by abortion advocates that would have gutted the entire bill.

Johnson also cited past votes on judicial nominees that could be a concern as President Bush looks to place new judges on the Supreme Court.

"Senator Reid has played a key role in blocking or attempting to block key judicial appointments by Republican presidents, including Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas," Johnson explained. "He helped lead the filibusters that blocked confirmation of 10 or more of President Bush’s key judicial appointments over the past two years."

In fact, Reid has apparently sought to shore up his support with leading pro-abortion groups in advance of securing the party leadership position.

He recently met with representatives of NARAL and Kate Michelman, the group’s former president, and secured an endorsement from Diane Feinstein, a California senator considered a leading abortion advocate.

The Nevada senator says he has the backing of 30 of the 45 members of the Democratic caucus and calls seeking support in to 10 others. He is so close to winning the key position that he spokes with President Bush on Tuesday, but did not reveal the content of the discussion.

Two other Democrats with leadership aspirations, Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Richard Durbin of Illinois, are considered more likely to seek the whip’s job than to challenge Reid for Daschle’s post. Both support abortion.