Senators Considering Presidential Bids Split on Abortion, Stem Cell Research

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 27, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senators Considering Presidential Bids Split on Abortion, Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 27, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Senators on both sides of the political aisle who are considering presidential bids in 2008 split their votes on the issue of abortion and stem cell research. For Democrats, the split came on the issue of upholding parental involvement laws on abortion and potential Republican contenders split on taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research.

On the Republican side, all of the potential presidential candidates next time around voted in favor of the Child Custody Protection Act to help parents protect their teenage daughters from abortions.

But Republicans considering the presidency split down the middle on the issue of funding embryonic stem cell research.

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel and Virginia Sen. George Allen each cast votes against forcing taxpayers to pay for the research, which involves the destruction of human life.

But Arizona Sen. John McCain and Tennesse Sen. Bill Frist both voted for it. The two have largely been reliable votes on pro-life issues in general, but pro-life voters will likely remember their embryonic stem cell research votes when they go to the polls in 2008 primary contests.

The votes of Allen, Hagel and Brownback become even more important when other potential Republican presidential candidates are considered.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New York Gov. George Pataki and Secretary of State Condoleeze Rice, all considered potential candidates, back abortion.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who says he’s a recent pro-life convert, vetoed an embryonic stem cell research promotion bill in his state and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, two other 2008 possibilities, are both pro-life.

When it comes to the issue of abortion, grassroots Democrats are split by about a 60-40 margin in favor of abortion, according to polls. But Democratic lawmakers are largely pro-abortion.

In the Senate, only Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson is considered a reliable pro-life vote, though a handful of others vote pro-life about half the time.

Looking at prospective presidential candidates for Democrats, just one Democrat, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, voted in favor of the Child Custody Protection Act, a measure that would prohibit taking teens to another state for an abortion that violates her home state’s parental involvement laws.

Reflecting on the vote, Bayh spokeswoman Meg Keck said the senator "supports the right of parents to be involved in the major medical decisions regarding their children, absent a showing of abuse, incest or other compelling reasons."

All of the rest — Joe Biden of Delaware, Hillary Clinton of New York, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and John Kerry of Massachusetts — voted against 80 percent of the public and opposed the parental involvement bill.

On the issue of embryonic stem cell research funding, all of the possible 2008 Democratic presidential candidates voted to use taxpayer funds to pay for it.

Despite the split on abortion, pro-life advocates can’t look to Bayh as a possible pro-life candidate to consider.

In addition to funding embryonic stem cell research, Bayh has voted during this session of Congress to use taxpayer funds to pay for groups that promote and perform abortions in other nations.

From 2003-2004, Bayh’s pro-life voting record was just 18 percent, according to the National Right to Life Committee. He voted twice in favor of the partial-birth abortion ban, but also supported amendments that would have gutted the intent of the bill.

Bayh also backed a provision supporting Roe v. Wade, voted to pay for abortions in various circumstances, and opposed a bill helping to protect pregnant women like Laci Peterson from acts of violence.

Other potential Democratic presidential candidates for 2008 are pro-abortion, including former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, and Iowa Gov Ton Vilsack.