Republican Party Shouldn’t Abandon Pro-Life Abortion View Despite Criticism

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 2, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republican Party Shouldn’t Abandon Pro-Life Abortion View Despite Criticism

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 2
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — In a new editorial at National Review, respected conservative author and columnist Ramesh Ponnuru writes that the Republican party shouldn’t abandon its pro-life view on abortion despite calls from media elites and pro-abortion Republicans to do so.

Ponnuru says pro-life issues have been winning issues for Republicans at the national and state levels.

He said it wasn’t as much of a winning issue in the 2008 presidential election only because the state of the economy and the referendum on President Bush on unrelated issues prevented it from having its usual importance.

"The impulse to blame social conservatives arises nearly every time Republicans fail," Ponnuru said. "About this campaign to sideline the social Right, three things can be said with a fairly high degree of confidence: It is predictable; it will fail; and it is wrong."

"Yet there is no real likelihood that the party is going to abandon or reduce its opposition to abortion in particular or kick aside the social conservatives in general," he added.

Ponnuru said that most Republicans are pro-life and the only candidates anyone is seriously mentioning for president in 2012 — people like Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Mark Sanford, and Tim Pawlenty — are all pro-life.

The National Review columnist also pointed to New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s failure to capture the GOP nomination as evidence of how many pro-life advocates are in the Republican Party and their strength.

"The Giuliani campaign’s spectacular flameout shows how hard it would be for Republicans to become pro-choice," he writes. "Unlike previous pro-choice Republican presidential candidates, Giuliani did not run on his pro-choice position, had a record of accomplishment, tried to meet pro-lifers partway, had huge national name recognition, and took orthodox conservative positions on economic issues."

"Yet, he still couldn’t make it," Ponnuru observes.

He also dismisses the notion that Giuliani only lost because he adopted the “late-state strategy" — yet the mayor did so because he couldn’t compete in early contests like Iowa and South Carolina where pro-life Republicans dominate.

Ponnuru says part of the problem with a pro-abortion Republican presidential candidate is turnout — as the pro-life base of the party wouldn’t turn out in the numbers it normally does.

Looking back to 2006, Ponnuru also says there is little evidence that abortion hurts Republicans.

"In 2006, for example, the Republican senator who went down hardest, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, lost to a pro-life Democrat — in an election that also saw pro-abortion senator Lincoln Chafee lose," he said.

Ultimately, "the argument that socially conservative positions are a drag on Republican tickets is dubious, as is the fact-free fervor of those who insist on it."

"The attempts to blame social conservatism for Republican defeats will not reduce its influence in the party. What they will do is distract attention from the changes the party really does need to make," Ponnuru concludes.

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