Republican Debate Shows Pro-Life Issues Critical to 2012 Election

Opinion   |   Ciara Matthews   |   Aug 12, 2011   |   6:49PM   |   Washington, DC

It should come as no surprise that so little of the coverage of last night’s Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa, has involved talk of the pro-life issue. The economy and joblessness took center stage, and understandably so, as President Obama has clearly failed on his promise of immediate (despite his attempts to disown his earlier timeline) economic recovery.

Abortion was brought up early in the debate during a heated exchange between Congresswoman Bachmann and Gov. Pawlenty. However, direct questions and answers regarding the candidates’ positions on abortion took up a total of just three minutes and five seconds during the entire two-hour debate. Only two of the eight candidates were even asked about their views on the subject.

So what’s the take-home message here? That candidates’ positions on abortion are unimportant to voters and should be given little discussion time?


Republican primary voters have been given an impressive pool of staunchly pro-life candidates from whom to choose their next nominee. Each of the candidates who participated in last night’s debate has either gone on the record in defense of life or posted a strong voting record in support of the pro-life cause. In fact, only one detail really separates the candidates.

The Susan B. Anthony List Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge has outlined four areas in which each candidate has been asked to be a leader and defender of the pro-life movement. These areas include: actively working to defund Planned Parenthood; advancing a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act; naming only pro-life individuals to relevant cabinet positions; and nominating federal judges who will apply the original meaning of the Constitution to their decisions, rather than legislate from the bench.

The SBA List asked each candidate to sign the pledge, and five of the candidates in last night’s debate have done so: Bachmann, Pawlenty, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul (Congressman Thad McCotter has also signed the pledge but did not participate in Ames). Romney, Huntsman and Cain have yet to sign the pledge.

What this should tell Republican voters around the country, and Ames straw poll goers in particular, is that the issue of life matters. As a party, Republicans should be proud that their field of candidates consists of those who have affirmed the importance of standing up for and protecting life.

However, it cannot be overlooked that there are some in the field who have taken their pro-life convictions seriously enough to sign their name to a pledge that commits them to being active and vocal leaders for the cause. While Republicans should applaud the fact that their candidates are so vocally pro-life that there is little debate to be had on the issue, they should also seriously consider the value of nominating someone who has inked his or her name to a cause so fundamental to the Republican Party as a whole.