GOP Prez Candidates Reach for Pro-Life Mantle on Abortion in Debate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 16, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

GOP Prez Candidates Reach for Pro-Life Mantle on Abortion in Debate Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 16
, 2007

Columbia, SC ( — With Rudy Giuliani getting intense heat over his pro-abortion position in recent weeks, causing him to slide in the polls, the rest of the Republican presidential field tried to grab the pro-life mantle during the second presidential debate. They each tried to outmaneuver the other to say they are the most opposed to abortion.

With most of the candidates going on at length about their pro-life views, Giuliani urged respect for differences of opinion on abortion.

"There are people, millions and millions of Americans, who are of as good conscience as we are, who make a different choice about abortion," said Giuliani. "You have to respect that."

But that wasn’t good enough for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"[Giuliani] has been honest about his opinion; he’s been honest about his position. And I think that’s a healthy thing for our party and for this debate," he said.

"But I’m pro-life because I believe life begins at conception. And I believe that we should do everything possible to protect that life," he explained.

"That’s why we go out for the 12-year-old Boy Scout in North Carolina when he’s lost. That’s why we look for the 13 miners in Sago, W.Va., when the mine explodes. That’s why we go looking for the hikers on Mount Hood: Because we value life," Huckabee said.

Arizona Sen. John McCain went after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for recently changing his position on abortion.
"I haven’t changed my position on even-numbered years or have changed because of the different offices that I may be running for," McCain said.

Romney responded — saying as he has in past debates that his shift on abortion is heartfelt and that he didn’t become pro-life simply to run for president.

"I can tell you that I’ve looked at this long and hard. I’ve always been personally pro-life. I’ve taught that to others, it’s been part of my faith. The question for me was: What should government do in this kind of setting? And the Supreme Court stepped in and took a decision, and I said I’d support that decision," Romney said.

"And then I watched the impact of that decision as I was governor of Massachusetts. … Roe v. Wade has gone to such an extent that we’ve cheapened the value of human life," Romney added using language similar to what he has in the past.

Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who is pro-life, chimed in as well, saying, "I trust those conversions when they happen on the road to Damascus, not on the road to Des Moines."

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, surprisingly, was the most aggressive even though he thinks that abortions should be allowed up to eight weeks in pregnancy.

He accused the top three candidates — Giuliani, McCain and Romney — of not being true conservatives.

"Some of the people on this stage were very liberal in characterizing themselves as conservatives, particularly on the issues of abortion," Gilmore said.

Meanwhile, pro-life Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, when explaining why he disagrees with allowing an exception for abortion in the case of rape, said, "Will that make the woman in a better situation if that’s what takes place?"

"I don’t think so, and I think we can explain it when we look at it for what it is, a beautiful child of a loving God that we ought to protect in all circumstances," he said.

The candidates touched on stem cell research as well and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who opposes abortion, said he supports the embryonic kind that pro-life people oppose because it destroys human life.

"Until this research is done, we do not have to destroy any more embryos. There is enough lines right now, and capable with this other research going on, that embryonic stem cells, along with adult stem cells, cord blood and amniotic fluid can continue," he said.