Pro-Life Advocates Face Difficult Prospects in 2008 Presidential Elections

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 11, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Advocates Face Difficult Prospects in 2008 Presidential Elections

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 11
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — In each of the last seven presidential elections, pro-life advocates have had a major party candidate to support who took a clear pro-life stance on abortion and other issues. But 2008 could present real challenges as none of the apparent front-runners of either party holds a solid pro-life position.

On the Democratic side of the equation, the leading possibilities — from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to John Kerry and John Edwards — all strongly support both abortion and forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research.

Of the two major parties, only the GOP has nominated pro-life candidates for president since President Ronald Reagan, the first solidly pro-life president after Roe v. Wade, was elected in 1980.

However, the current crop of Republican candidates leaves pro-life advocates scratching their heads and wondering what to do because the perceived front-runners don’t take a consistent pro-life position.

Arizona Sen. John McCain has mostly voted against abortion and taxpayer funding of it but has flip-flopped on whether Roe should be overturned. He also voted this summer to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research and, as president, would almost assuredly spend millions on destroying human life in research.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, often at the top of current presidential polls, and New York Gov. George Pataki back both abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

Like McCain, former Wisconsin governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson backs embryonic stem cell research despite his solid anti-abortion position.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is campaigning as a pro-life candidate but he only recently became pro-life and campaigned as an abortion backer in every previous election.

Romney has tried to solidify his pro-life credentials by vetoing a bill promoting embryonic stem cell research in the face of a state legislature with enough votes to override him, by taking some actions against the morning after pill and supporting Haleigh Poutre, a young girl who almost became the victim of euthanasia.

But whether Romney’s change of heart — he said he converted to the pro-life position after investigating the stem cell research issue — is authentic or opportunist is questionable.

Will pro-life advocates be willing to trust someone who changed his position on these important issues shortly before making serious moves for the presidency?

One leader of a prominent pro-life organization told that Romney’s change of heart is authentic, but several other pro-life activists have said they question the timing of his conversion so close to the presidential campaign.

Unfortunately, the only potential presidential nominees with clear pro-life views are languishing at the bottom of the polls.

Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and California congressman Duncan Hunter are all polling in the low single digits.

Father Frank Pavone, the director of Priests for Life, has signed on as an advisor to Brownback, who hopes to break away from that pack and become the pro-life alternative to the leading candidates.

In an interview with, Pavone didn’t talk about specific candidates but urged pro-life advocates to get involved now in the 2008 presidential elections. He says it’s up to pro-life advocates to raise the profile of the pro-life candidates at the bottom of the polls.

"One of the most helpful things people can do right now is to increase the name recognition of the people who are solidly pro-life potential candidates," Pavone said. "Our movement should do everything possible to make these candidates known and promote them."

Pavone also told that pro-life people, especially those in early primary and caucus states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, need to get involved in the nominating process now.

"Another thing our people need to start doing now, more than ever, is to acquaint themselves with exactly how a presidential election works – starting from the most local level – and get involved in it actively," he said.

Pavone is confident the pro-life candidates will move up in the polls and become serious contenders by the end of next year.

"We can certainly bring the solidly pro-life candidates up in the polls, to a point where they can certainly become the nominee," he said.

Pavone also urged pro-life advocates to take heart, noting, "It is not unusual that the eventual nominee was not very well-known or high in the polls at the beginning of the process."