The Senate this week begins its consideration of Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s choice to be Secretary of Labor. Much of the focus will be on his impressive business career and his positive agenda for American workers. But the Senate should not overlook an important part of Mr. Puzder’s background, one that testifies to his commitment to the dignity of the unborn child and his willingness to work with people of opposing viewpoints to resolve one of the most divisive issues in our nation – abortion.
Andrew Puzder is best known today for his business career, but he began as a lawyer who sought to protect the rights of the most vulnerable among us. He was the architect of trailblazing Missouri law that stated that “the life of each human being begins at conception,” and that “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.”
This law identified a state interest in protecting the life and health of the unborn and their mothers, and established limits on the use of state funds and facilities for abortion. The Missouri law was ultimately upheld in 1989 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark decision Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, setting the stage for the state-level restrictions on abortion funding that have been enacted around the country ever since.
This victory for the pro-life movement had its roots in Puzder’s vision and efforts. What’s more, he never believed that those who argued the other side of the issue were adversaries to be demonized; rather he saw them as potential allies in solving the underlying issues that led to abortion.
Following the Supreme Court decision in 1989, he joined with B. J. Isaacson-Jones, the director of the abortion clinic that had challenged the Missouri law in court, to form the Common Ground Network for Life and Choice. Puzder wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that “while neither side is going to make concessions on the basic underlying issue, it is difficult to see how either side would hurt its position by jointly seeking legislative aid for impoverished women and their children.”
Ms. Isaacson-Jones told the Los Angeles Times that “Andy and I agreed immediately that, if more women had prenatal care and housing and food and all the rest of it, more might choose to carry their pregnancies to term, to parent, if that is their choice.” Throughout the 1990s, the Common Ground network worked to forge consensus among people on both sides of the abortion divide to improve access to adoption and expand aid to poor pregnant mothers and their children.
In the years since, Puzder has continued to champion the pro-life cause as a philanthropist and businessmen. He has generously supported Americans United for Life’s legal efforts to protect the unborn as well as the work of the Susan B. Anthony List. I have known him for years and can testify to his integrity, his faith, and his sincere desire to bridge differences with respect and mutual understanding.
Too often in Washington, character assassination is used as just another ploy to gain political advantage. But any effort to portray Andrew Puzder as anything other than a champion of the most vulnerable among us – unborn children – would be a profound injustice. His lifetime of work and public service demonstrates his profound understanding of the value of every human person, no matter how small. That’s the bedrock upon which he will develop and implement policies that benefit American workers and employers alike as Secretary of Labor. He deserves the support of every member of the United States Senate.
LifeNews Note: Marjorie Dannenfelser is the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life women’s group.