Republican Candidates Tackle Abortion, Pro-Life Issues in Debate

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 6, 2011   |   10:22AM   |   Greenville, SC

A handful of likely Republican presidential candidates debated in South Carolina on Thursday evening and addressed a host of political issues ranging from the economy to foreign policy. They also tackled abortion and pro-life issues.

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, received a question about the social issues truce Indiana governor and potential presidential candidate Mitch Daniels called for previously.

Asked, “Are you willing to tone down your positions on abortion and homosexuality in an effort to reach more voters and help the GOP coalesce behind a more fiscally focused platform?,” Santorum replied, “Anybody that would suggest that we call a truce on the moral issues doesn’t understand what America is all about.”

“America is a country that is based on this concept, and the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. Rights come from God and the first of which is life,” he said. “Those two concepts really transformed the world because it said that government was going to be limited. Allow people to be free, and to pursue their own dream and to serve their God, to serve their family and community. And if we have a respect for human life because of course we’re all created equal.”

“A lot of people out here can check the boxes and say they have conservative positions, but I’ve led on life,” he told the Greenville audience. “I’ve got the arrows in my back from the mainstream media to prove it.”

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was asked about his stance on embryonic stem cell research and he made it clear he supports the more ethical kind that is the only variety to help patients.

“As to stem cell research it holds great promise and I support stem cell research. I think it should be adult derived,” he said. “By the way, Shannon, most of the therapies and breakthroughs that we are seeing in terms of treatment are coming from adult derived stem cell research. I strongly support that. As to embryonic stem cell research, I don’t think we should pursue [it].”

Pawlenty told the South Carolina audience he supported the protections President George W. Bush put in place — that pro-abortion President Barack Obama repealed — preventing any taxpayer funding of any new embryonic stem cell research that involves the destruction of human life.

In 2008, Pawlenty vetoed the Kahn-Cohen Cloning Bill, which would have legalized human cloning and forced taxpayers to pay for the destruction of human life. Pro-life advocates strongly opposed the legislation, SF 100, because it funds human cloning and the killing of human embryos at the University of Minnesota.

In his veto message, Pawlenty described the human embryo-destructive experiments as “crossing core ethical and moral boundaries.”

“Significant and promising progress continues to be made on the use of adult stem cells. This creates ample opportunity to work toward lifesaving cures,” Pawlenty said. “We should encourage this science.”

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who supports legalized abortion, was asked his position on abortion and quickly turned himself off to most Republican voters by declaring he supports abortion up to the point of “viability of the fetus,” though he checked off a number of pro-life laws limiting abortions that he could support. He said he would hope to get the vote of pro-life people in the general election against Obama.

Rep. Ron Paul and businessman Herman Cain also participated in the debate and both hold pro-life positions along with Pawlenty and Santorum.