Republican Party Chair Hopeful Michael Steele Questioned on Pro-Life Views

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 18, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republican Party Chair Hopeful Michael Steele Questioned on Pro-Life Views

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 18
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Several candidates are running for the post of chairman of the national Republican Party but former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele is receiving the most attention. That’s because there is a growing internal debate on whether Steele is fully pro-life when it comes to abortion.

Steele ran as a pro-life candidate in 2006 for the U.S. Senate and told the National Right to Life Committee that he supports every sort of pro-life law and favored overturning Roe v. Wade.

As previously reported, Darla St. Martin, associate director for NRLC, told that Steele was 100 percent pro-life and "believes that unborn children should be protected by law" as well as "supports [the] reversal of the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision."

But Colleen Parro of the Republican National Coalition for Life, has her doubts and she bases that in part on his relationship with a small pro-abortion faction of Republicans.

"Steele’s long partnership with former pro-abortion Governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman and the Republican Leadership Council is deeply troubling," she told

The RLC was formed for the express purpose of electing pro-abortion Republicans and GOP candidates who may be pro-life but don’t emphasize abortion as much as the rest of the party. Its web site lists Steele as a co-founder along with Whitman.

Parro says the RLC sent a letter to its donors weeks before the 2008 presidential election requesting funds to put fiscally conservative, "socially tolerant" Republicans in office. Parro says the phrase is "code" for pro-abortion Republicans.

The pro-life Republican activist is more concerned with the RLC’s opposition to the pro-life plank in the party platform and its analysis of the 2008 elections — blaming the loss on the addition of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her strong pro-life position.

"RLC’s analysis of the loss of the election is an attack on the Party’s base of support in general and Sarah Palin in particular, and it is exactly backwards," Parro says.

Ultimately, Parro says Republican leaders should be wary of Steele because of these associations.

"Michael Steele has been keeping company with those who justify Roe v. Wade, oppose the pro-life plank in the Republican National Platform, wish to purge the Party of its" pro-life base, she explains.

But Joyce Lyons Terhes, an RNC National Committeewoman from Maryland, has a different view.

She says in an email that is being bandied about the Internet that Steele is fully pro-life and concerns of those like Parro are unfounded.

"As someone who has known Michael for almost 20 years I can tell you these charges are absolutely false," Terhes says.

"Michael is the only current candidate for RNC chairman who has ever been endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee," Terhes explained. "Oh, and by the way, it’s not easy running for public office in Maryland as a staunch pro-lifer. But that is exactly what Michael did. He never backed down. Never made excuses."

Terhes also cites the Washington Times, which endorsed Steele’s Senate campaign in part because of his pro-life views.

"Mr. Steele is staunchly pro-life (parting with many Republicans who support abortion in cases of rape and incest)," the paper said in its October 2006 endorsement.

"If anyone tells you Michael isn’t a strong enough pro-lifer, you can be sure they either don’t know Michael Steele as well as they should, or they’re being malicious," Terhes concludes. attempted to contact Steele for comment on this story and has not received a response.

There are several other candidates in the race for the GOP chairmanship or considering running. The include Mike Huckabee presidential campaign manager Chip Saltzman, Michigan GOP state chairman Saul Anuzis and former National Committeeman Chuck Yob.

South Carolina state chairman Katon Dawson has announced his candidacy and Texas state chairman Tina Benkiser is considering running. Former presidential hopeful Fred Thompon is also a dark horse potential candidate.

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