by Steven Ertelt
February 7, 2006
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — Pro-abortion Congressman Harold Ford is playing down his stance in favor of abortion after he came under criticism from Republican Party leaders for voting in lockstep with a national abortion advocacy group.
During a visit to Chattanooga last week, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman criticized the Democratic Senate hopeful for a "100 percent National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) voting record."
Ford, a congressman from Memphis, told the Kingsport Time News that Mehlman’s characterization of his abortion record is false.
He claimed his record on abortion is like that of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts "in that I respect the law of the land."
"I’m a supporter of enhanced adoption laws," Ford said. "I had one of the signature bills in Congress on expediting adoption. It was all part of a morals package that I introduced at the beginning of the last Congress. I’m a believer in parental notification."
However, Ford’s record is strongly pro-abortion.
In 2005, Ford had just a 29 percent pro-life voting record, according to the National Right to Life Committee. He voted for a bill to help Terri Schiavo’s parents stop their daughter’s euthanasia death.
Ford also backed a measure that would have prosecuted those who violate state parental involvement laws by taking teens to another state for a secret abortion. However, he also voted for two pro-abortion amendments opposed by pro-life groups that would have severely weakened the law.
In 2003-2004, Ford has a 25 percent pro-life voting record, voted 19 percent pro-life from 2001-2002, just 6 percent pro-life from 1999-2000 and from 1997-1998.
Though his voting record is overwhelmingly pro-abortion, Ford has slowly increased his pro-life voting percentage over the years. He attributes that to a conversation he had with a doctor.
"Three years in the Congress, I had a long conversation with a physician outside of a town hall setting in Memphis that really started to change my opinion on it," Ford said of partial-birth abortion.
"The last four years, I have been an opponent and voted against it in the Congress. I’ve had an evolution in thinking and change of position," he told the Times News.
But that change of position hasn’t expanded to other issues like taxpayer funding of abortions or embryonic stem cell research, which he supports.
Pro-life Rep Van Hilleary, who is seeing the Republican nomination, chided Ford for trying to run away from his pro-abortion record.
"Harold Ford is trying to dance around his long-held liberal abortion position," Hilleary said.
"Tennessee voters need to know the truth about Harold. They deserve more than an election year dance around what is an undeniably pro-choice record."
Ford faces state Sen. Rosalind Kurita of Clarksville for the Democratic nomination in the August primary.
The winner will face either Hilleary, pro-life Rep Ed Bryant, who has the backing of Tennessee Right to Life, or former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, who campaigned in 1994 as a pro-abortion candidate but has backtracked from that position.