by Steven Ertelt
December 21, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Two leading pro-life lawmakers have been named by Senate Republican leaders to join the controversial Senate Judiciary Committee. They will be thrusted into a battleground where abortion opponents and advocates will duke it out over nominees to the Supreme Court.
On Monday, Senate Republicans appointed Senators Sam Brownback and Tom Coborn to the judicial panel.
Brownback, from Kansas, is a leading pro-life lawmaker known for sponsoring the total ban on human cloning.
He also is proposing legislation next session, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, that would require abortion practitioners to inform women considering late-term abortions that unborn children feel intense pain during the procedure. The mother would be asked if she wants to allow the babies to receive anesthesia before the abortion.
Meanwhile, Coburn, an OBGYN, was recently elected to the Senate from Oklahoma after serving in the House of Representatives for several terms.
Responding to the appointments, Nancy Keenan, the new president of NARAL, told the Washington Post that, "It appears the far right is massing troops on the border of Roe v. Wade."
Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer says he was worked with both men and is delighted that have been named to the committee.
"An obstetrician by profession, Dr. Coburn is one of the most effective advocates for the sanctity of life and Sam Brownback has been a tireless leader on many issues of concern to pro-family conservatives," Bauer said.
The entire Republican conference of 55 senators votes on committee assignments in January. Should they approve the changes, as expected, Coburn and Brownback will join eight other Republican senators on the panel.
That will mean 10 Republicans and 8 Democrats will serve on the key committee and will almost undoubtedly assure that President Bush’s pro-life judicial nominees will make it onto the Senate floor for debate.
In the last session of Congress, Democrats held nine positions on the panel. As a result of election day defeats they will lose one member, former senator and failed Vice-Presidential nominee John Edwards.
With Chief Justice William Rehnquist fighting cancer and three other justices battling advancing age and health issues, Bush is expected to have at least a couple of appointments to the nation’s high court.
All nominations will begin with hearings and votes on the judicial panel.
Last month, Arlen Specter became the subject of an intense battle with pro-life advocates attempting to prevent him from becoming the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Members of the committee eventually supported Specter after he put forth a written promise to hold prompt hearings and votes and to do everything possible to support Bush’s judicial picks.
Brownback and Coburn replace pro-life Senators. Larry Craig of Idaho and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia who are moving to other committees.