The pro-life movement is full of converts. From pro-life President Ronald Reagan to former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson, the movement is filled with impressive personal testimonies leading individuals to embrace the fundamental belief that each human life has dignity and should be protected under law.
Remarkably, it took coming to Congress for newly sworn-in Sen. Dean Heller (R) to reach that conclusion and put those beliefs in practice.
Yet since his election to the US House of Representatives in 2006 and his appointment to the US Senate in May 2011, Heller has voted for key pro-life initiatives against abortion. Some of these include the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the de-funding of Planned Parenthood and the repeal of Obamacare.
Heller says he did not have an epiphany on the issue of abortion, but rather the tough decisions he had to make as a lawmaker helped him to evolve on the issue.
“I was probably more libertarian when I was back in the state. I came here to Washington D.C., and there were certain votes that had to be cast. A couple of those votes, of course, had to do with the federal funding of abortions. I didn’t support it. And that being the case, it became clearer that was my position.
I’ve always said, even when I was back in Nevada, that my personal feelings were that I was pro-life, but I had a libertarian view on it. It wasn’t an issue that was in the forefront when I was in the state of Nevada. Obviously, it’s come to the forefront when I’ve been here in Washington D.C.,” Heller told the Associated Press.
Jeremy McNeil, the executive director of Nevada Right to Life PAC, commented on Heller’s apparent conversion saying “I don’t know what caused the difference. I know that as a congressman he is faced with more of those issues than he was as secretary of state [the position Heller held before running for Congress]. During his time in Congress, he may have honed his thoughts on the issues and maybe has seen them from a different light.”
In Washington DC, where pro-life politicians too often stray from their convictions, it is extraordinary that Sen. Heller has compiled such a solid pro-life record on abortion despite his previous pro-abortion position. Like any politician, Senator Heller isn’t perfect. He voted in favor of embryonic stem cell research twice during his first term in Congress. But his tangible shift to the pro-life position on abortion over the course of his time in Washington, is truly commendable. We can only hope this is a growing trend for new lawmakers as they rise up in the ranks.
In 2012, Senator Heller will face voters in hopes of serving a full six-year term in the Senate. Opposing him on the Democratic side is pro-abortion Rep. Shelly Berkley, who has earned the early backing of EMILY’s List, a political action committee dedicated to electing only the most extreme pro-abortion candidates.