Pro-Life Candidate Guide to the Iowa Republican, Democratic Caucus

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 3, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Candidate Guide to the Iowa Republican, Democratic Caucus Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 3,

Des Moines, IA ( — Iowa Republicans and Democrats head to their caucus votes tonight and many of them will be guided by their pro-life views on which candidate to support. On the Democratic side, all of the candidates strongly support abortion. Republicans have mostly pro-life candidates with nuanced views or backgrounds on the issues.

Republican Candidates

Mike Huckabee – The former Arkansas governor is one of the strongest pro-life candidates in the field and has a history of supporting pro-life measures. In 2005, Huckabee signed a parental consent bill and in March 2003 Huckabee signed a ban on human cloning. Huckabee also signed a bill in 2003 authorizing the sale of Choose Life license plates. The governor earned the endorsement of Georgia Right to Life because he favors a personhood bill there that would provide legal protection for unborn children.

Starting in the back of the pack, Huckabee has surged in November and December and now is shown leading in Iowa in most polls and has built momentum elsewhere. His expected strong showing would lend credence to his newfound top-tier status and give him momentum to do better in Iowa and to strongly compete in South Carolina.

Mitt Romney – Romney has been perhaps the most controversial candidate when it comes to abortion because he once strongly support it. Romney says he converted to the pro-life position after confronting the destruction of human life in embryonic stem cell research. Despite frequently sounding pro-life themes during the campaign and earning the endorsement of leading pro-life figures Jack Willke and Jim Bopp, some have questioned whether Romney is truly pro-life and point to past actions that cast aspersions on his claims. Though he opposes the destructive research, Romney has drawn criticism for saying he supports killing human embryos "leftover" at fertility clinics.

Romney has built a solid campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire and is one of the Republicans considered most likely to win the nomination. A win or second in Iowa would put him in good stead for New Hampshire, but a second in Iowa and a second to John McCain in New Hampshire may take the wind out of his sails. He also has to worry that the media may spin a second place finish into a poor performance given how much money and time he’s spent in Iowa.

Fred Thompson – The former Tennessee senator took a long time to formally enter the race but quickly earned the support of National Right to Life and several statewide pro-life groups. He opposes both abortion and embryonic stem cell research and compiled a strong 100% pro-life voting record in the Senate. Thompson was tagged on comments about Terri Schiavo and has drawn criticism for backing the campaign finance bill, but he’s since backed down on the latter and said he would sign a bill helping patients like Terri receive appropriate medical care. He also was criticized for a few hours of lobbying he did for a pro-abortion group in the early 1990s, but said he was simply representing the clients of his law firm and didn’t support their efforts.

Thompson was hailed as a savior of a lackluster Republican field when he first entered the race but has been jeered for becoming a lackluster candidate himself. His polling numbers have dropped steadily in the last two months and he is expected to come in third or fourth in Iowa. With no campaign in New Hampshire, Thompson must finish strong tonight to be able to fund his campaign until the backyard contest in South Carolina.

John McCain — The senator from Arizona has long had a pro-life voting record when it comes to abortion issues, but his position on everything else has caused pro-life groups to lose considerable sleep. The campaign finance bill that limits their activities bears his name and McCain has voted repeatedly for embryonic stem cell research funding. He’s also been criticized for opposing and then supporting the reversal of Roe v. Wade. When Sen. Sam Brownback dropped out, the pro-life luminary threw his support to McCain but some chalked it up to support of a colleague rather than ideological similarities.

McCain’s campaign was considered through during the summer and fall months but he has rebounded in recent weeks as other candidates have attacked one another and as foreign policy matters have come to the forefront. He gave up on campaigning in Iowa so a third place finish would exceed expectations and give him a boost heading into New Hampshire. Polls show him leading or second in the Granite State and he’s performed well there in the past. A third in Iowa and a win in New Hampshire could be McCain’s ticket to Minneapolis.

Rudy Giuliani — Rudy Giuliani is the only self-declared pro-abortion candidate in the Republican race and he’s not likely going to get the support of many pro-life voters in Iowa. He’s been attacked for flip-flopping on partial-birth abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions and has been called out for inflating adoption statistics in New York. has issued a non-endorsement urging pro-life voters to reject his candidacy.

Despite claims from some political observers and media pundits and despite polls showing him competing well nationally, predicted almost a month ago that Giuliani would not win the GOP nomination. Since then, Giuliani has given up on Iowa and New Hampshire and may come in sixth tonight behind Ron Paul. Giuliani has no realistic shot at competing with the top-tier candidates in conservative South Carolina and three losses in a row (combined with more likely in Wyoming, Nevada or Michigan) will make his stand in Florida meaningless.

Ron Paul — A former surgeon and obstetrician, Paul is strongly pro-life on abortion and has flatly refused to fund embryonic stem cell research. However, his approach is both a blessing and a curse. Paul wants abortions illegal but has opposed several federal bills that would limit or stop abortions because he doesn’t think it the right way to end abortion. That’s earned him both praise and scorn from pro-life advocates depending on their strategic approach. As president Paul would certainly stop the kinds of domestic and international abortion funding pro-life advocates oppose.

The Internet sensation has come along way from his one percent standing in the polls during much of 2007 and could surprise observers with a third or fourth place finish in Iowa and a strong showing in New Hampshire. He’s raised more money of late than most of the field but can’t seem to convert that into more support in the polls.

Duncan Hunter – Congressman Hunter is strongly pro-life on both abortion and bioethics issues. However, he has never been more than a blip in the polls and the question is less about whether he will become the nominee and more about when he will drop out and whom he will endorse.

Alan Keyes – The former ambassador is a hero to many pro-life advocates, but the reasons for his very late entry into the presidential race are still unclear to many. Sadly, his poor showings will detract from the strong performance he put in during the 2000 Republican primary when he placed third in Iowa and stayed in the race long enough to raise the pro-life standard high.

Democratic Candidates

Hillary Clinton — Anyone who doesn’t know Clinton is pro-abortion hasn’t been paying much attention for the last 15 years. The New York senator has tried on numerous occasions to moderate her image but betrayed those efforts the other day when she said she favored abortion. Clinton wants to force taxpayers to fund abortions and embryonic stem cell research and would reverse many of the gains pro-life advocates have made under President Bush.

Clinton was seen as the heir apparent to the Democratic nomination but Barack Obama and John Edwards have made her work twice as hard. Polls show a three-way race in Iowa and Clinton is now faced with a must do well scenario or risk losing her inevitability status. A third place showing in Iowa could be the beginning of the end.

Barack Obama – Obama is viewed as the fresh hope for tomorrow but he supports the same tired pro-abortion positions.

Obama has a 0 percent pro-life voting record according to the National Right to Life Committee. He has voted to spend taxpayer dollars to fund groups that perform or promote abortions in other countries and voted twice against parental notification and consent. He also has voted to force taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research, which involves the destruction of human life. Clinton criticized Obama for voting present on some abortion bills when he was in the legislature, but the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council said he did so after he approached the abortion business with the strategy.

A win in Iowa elevates him in New Hampshire and could pave the way to the nomination and a campaign as the first black nominee of a major political party. Obama could likely survive a close second place showing in Iowa given the closeness or the race but would lose a chance to capitalize on the apparent grassroots support he’s building. A third place finish will remind both voters and pundits of Howard Dean’s fizzle and could doom his chances.

John Edwards — You know you’re a solidly pro-abortion candidate when former NARAL president Kate Michelman supports your candidate. Most pro-life voters know Edwards from his time with pro-abortion John Kerry and he backed the Planned Parenthood position down the line. Karen Cross, the political director of the National Right to Life Committee, told that Michelman’s involvement "underscores not only his strong pro-abortion stance, but also his strong ties to the pro-abortion movement."

Edwards faces a must-win situation in Iowa as his campaign doesn’t have the money or operation in other status to make up for a third place, or even a second place showing. He’s trailing in New Hampshire to Clinton and Obama and the only way to make up the difference is a win tonight.