Rick Perry Becomes Latest Pro-Life Republican 2012 Hopeful

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 14, 2011   |   4:17PM   |   Charleston, SC

On Saturday night, Texas Gov. Rick Perry became the latest Republican hopeful seeking to secure the GOP nomination to take on pro-abortion President Barack Obama. Perry enters on the heels of polls showing him to be a top-tier contender for the nomination.

Perry told a gathering of conservative activists meeting at a conference sponsored by the Red State blog in South Carolina and he told them, “I full well believe I’m going to win.”

Perry started the speech with pointed criticism of President Obama, saying, “this President’s unbridled fixation on taking more money out of the wallets and pocketbooks of American families and employers and giving it to a central government.”

“But of course, now we’re told we are in recovery. Yeah,” he continued. “But this sure doesn’t feel like a recovery to more than nine percent of Americans out there who are unemployed, or the sixteen percent of African Americans and 11 percent of Hispanics in the same position, or the millions more who can only find part-time work, or those who have stopped even looking for a job.”

“Page one of any economic plan to get America working is to give a pink slip to the current resident in the White House,’ he continued.

While Perry spent most of his speech on economic issues that are at the forefront of the minds of voters, he has received A grades from the two top pro-life organizations in Texas and the head of a third gives him high marks as well.

“Governor Rick Perry has always championed the pro-life cause, tirelessly advocating for the sanctity of innocent human life in numerous ways,” Texas Right to Life executive director Elizabeth Graham tells LifeNews.com.

“Governor Perry has worked alongside Texas Right to Life, helping shepherd our pro-life bills and eagerly supporting our measures,” Graham said. “As governor of Texas, he has intervened to stop anti-life legislation on a number of occasions, and he has helped clear obstacles when necessary.”

Joe Pojman, the head of Texas Alliance for Life, has also worked closely with the governor and confirms to LifeNews that “Perry has always been pro-life throughout his time as an elected official.”

“For many years, Perry has supported the fund raising efforts of pro-life organizations, including Texas Alliance for Life, and he has appeared several times at the Texas Rally for Life held at the state Capitol to commemorate the tragic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision,” Pojman added.”We believe Perry has the right stuff to be president. If elected, he will aggressively defend innocent human life as he has as governor of Texas.”

Kelly Shackelford, a pro-life advocate who heads the Liberty Institute, has known and worked with Perry for two decades and said he’s signed into law more pro-life legislation in Texas than any other governor.

“People are calling and asking, ‘Is this guy really a social conservative and a fiscal conservative?’ and it’s easy to say yes because I’ve seen it,” he told CNN.  “As far as proving himself, he’s been the most solid conservative I’ve seen anywhere in the country.”

“They want a candidate who is not only socially and fiscally conservative, but who could actually raise money,” says Shackelford. “Perry can bridge the establishment and grass roots sides of the party and that’s really hard to find.”

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Council, tells CNN he’s seen a concerted effort by Perry to dialog with pro-life leaders.

“There’s been a significant attempt by him and his staff to reach out to conservative Christian leaders and it’s now going to a new level,” he said. “Perry is not making the same mistake that McCain made. McCain wanted Christian conservative votes but didn’t want to get too close to Christian conservative leaders.”

Ralph Reed, who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition, agrees, and told CNN, “Rick Perry has the potential to energize tea party and social conservatives, as well as attract endorsements and contributions from GOP donors and elected officials.”

Pojman pointed to a laundry list of achievements Perry can point to as governor that have advanced the pro-life cause. Most recently, he signed into law a bill that would revoke taxpayer funding of the Planned Parenthood abortion business. But going back to the beginning, as the Lt. Governor in 1999, Perry oversaw the passage by the Texas Senate of the Parental Notification Act, the most substantial pro-life law passed in Texas up to that point. In 2005, Gov. Perry signed the parental consent measure to increase parents’ rights and, in the years since the parental notification and consent laws have been in effect, abortions on minor girls have dropped by 32% per year.

In 2003, Perry signed the Prenatal Protection Act, a law that protects unborn children from violent crimes of murder and assault by expanding the definition of human life in Texas criminal and civil law to include unborn children “at every stage of gestation from fertilization to birth.” Texas’ highest criminal court has upheld convictions of criminals for the murder of unborn children several times, and several are serving life sentences.

In 2005, Perry signed a measure prohibiting abortions in the third trimester and, Perry signed the Woman’s Right to Know Act in 2003, which required that abortion businesses offer state-created informational brochures to women considering abortion. That law also prohibits late abortions from being performed excepted in hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.

This year, Perry appeared to step up his push for pro-life laws even more and, in response to requests from the two Texas pro-life groups, made passing an ultrasound law among his top priorities.

“The bill he signed raises the standard of care for informed consent for abortion, for the first time, to the level of other surgical and medical procedures. It mandates a sonogram and gives women the right to see the image of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat. The bill also requires the physician who will perform the abortion to meet with the woman for an in-person consultation session 24 hours before the abortion to describe the procedure, its risks, and the alternatives,” Pojman said. “Abby Johnson, the former director of a Texas Planned Parenthood abortion facility turned pro-life advocate, believes that provision will “devastate” the abortion industry.”

Perry, this year, also signed a bill to create a “Choose Life” license plate to promote infant adoption as an alternative to abortion in the Lone Star State. Perry long promoted compassionate alternatives to abortion. Since 2005, Perry has signed budgets that include millions for pregnancy resource centers and other pro-life agencies that assist pregnant women.

Perry has also funded adult, not embryonic, stem cell research and treatments since 2005, and has spoken out against embryonic stem cell research.

The long record of pro-life accomplishments will serve the Texas governor well should he decide to seek the Republican nomination. He would face off against other candidates who are equally committed to pro-life values, but his pro-life track record will give him a chance to gain positive support from voters in places like Iowa and South Carolina. Should he ultimately become the nominee, Perry, like other Republicans seeking the nomination, would present a clear pro-life versus pro-abortion contrast with Obama that would rally the majority of Americans who are pro-life to his side.