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Rep. Renee Ellmers
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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INTERVIEW: Here are the three candidates challenging Rep. Renee Ellmers after she ‘betrayed’ pro-lifers

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

NORTH CAROLINA, January 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers ran as "pro-life" and was voted into office with significant support from the pro-life community. Then she fatally withdrew her sponsorship of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in January 2015.

To add insult to injury, when the bill – the most important pro-life legislation in history – finally came up for a vote, after killing its only chance of success, Ellmers voted in favor of it.

"Congresswoman Renee Ellmers has betrayed the pro-life community," said the North Carolina Values Coalition. The American Principles Project's founder shared, "I hope that Ellmers will be subjected to a strong primary challenge in the next election by someone who is genuinely pro-life."

Ellmers is challenged in March's primary by three pro-life candidates: Frank Roche, Jim Duncan, and Kay Daly. LifeSiteNews talked with all three pro-life challengers.

Frank Roche has experience running against Ellmers: he garnered 41 percent of the vote when he ran against her in the 2014 primary. Born with a rare disease of the hip, Roche was lame for years, but he eventually became a hockey player, wrestler, rower, and golfer. As a teenager, Roche worked to support his family when his father died. After college, Roche began a 23-year career in the international banking industry. He is founder and chief economist of PolicyMattersUSA.com.

Jim Duncan worked his way through Marist College and ultimately became a senior executive in the high-tech industry. Duncan and his family also worked with underprivileged inner-city children. It was his concern to lift children out of poverty and into opportunity, Duncan says, that led him to become a conservative and a Republican. He is endorsed by the Eagle Forum and Phyllis Schlafy, the Senate Conservatives Fund, Nancy Helms, Citizens United, and other pro-life conservatives. Duncan is the founder of the non-partisan Coalition for American Principles. 

Kay Daly began her activism as a volunteer for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign in 1984. A University of California alumna, she completed graduate work in legislative affairs at George Washington University. Daly is endorsed by Operation Rescue, Faith2Action, Tea Party Nation, the National Organization for Marriage, Dr. James Dobson, Robert Bork, Gary Bauer, Ambassador Alan Keyes, Ken Blackwell, and other pro-life conservatives.

LSN: How and when did you personally come to your pro-life convictions?

FRANK ROCHE: "Through my upbringing as a Catholic. My parents were both faithful observers of Catholicism and taught us the importance of protecting life from conception. ... I believe that life begins at conception. As your congressman, I will always fight to protect the sanctity of life and support legislation meant to stop abortion."

JIM DUNCAN: "I have been pro-life my entire life, having grown up in a faith-based home and attending Catholic school from childhood through college. ... Pro-life convictions have always been part of my core beliefs."

KAY DALY: "I do not recall a time in all my life when I did not have a definite and firm conviction in the reality that all life comes from God, and that human life is to be taken and given by Him and Him alone, or subject to His sanction, as where we execute a duly convicted felon. ... Human life is simply not a thing to be sacrificed for the convenience of any man or woman. ...

"In my growth and study as a young Christian, I did of course come upon the many scriptural passages that enforce the beliefs we pro-lifers share, [which] served to cement pro-life tenets in my heart. Similarly, when I came to work on Capitol Hill in the 1980s, I had the benefit of personally witnessing the courage and conviction of pro-life giants Jesse Helms; Bill Armstrong; Gordon Humphrey; and my own boss, Phil Gramm, as they fearlessly took on the establishment of both political parties to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding abortions in the District of Columbia. ...

"Unlike my present congressman, Renee Ellmers, I have consistently, vocally, and publicly fought in support of the pro-life plank in the national Republican Party platform. ... My support has never been feeble or timid or apologetic or limited."

LSN: Why should pro-life voters believe you will be more faithful to them than Renee Ellmers?

FRANK ROCHE: "Rep. Ellmers demonstrated her willingness to forsake the pro-life agenda when she blocked the pain-capable abortion bill from reaching the House floor in January of 2015. Her reasons for blocking the legislation – concerns about rape, and a belief young Republicans didn't think abortion was sufficiently important to act on so early in the new Congress – revealed her hypocrisy.

"I will not be able to prove my word of support for life until I have a chance to demonstrate such in Congress. For now, I have only my word backed by my integrity. ... I am committed to standing up against the Washington establishment ... to fight for conservative principles."

JIM DUNCAN: "Unlike Representative Ellmers, I have no ambitions of becoming a Washington career politician, rising through the ranks at the expense of my constituents. The whole reason I am running is because I am fed up with out-of-touch values in Washington. I also have a track record of working in my community in North Carolina with other conservative activists to advance conservative goals."

KAY DALY: "My consistent stance in favor of protecting those not yet born is a matter of public record stretching back 30 years. I have attended the annual March for Life for more than two decades. I have participated in sidewalk counseling, mass public assemblies, and given financial support to crisis pregnancy centers. I have done work with Life Tree, Inc. in Wake County and been a strident and uncompromising voice for the preservation of the pro-life plank in both the state and national GOP platforms. I've even been arrested outside the office of Speaker John Boehner, protesting his decision to cancel the scheduled floor vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in its undiluted form. In connection with my work with the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary and CNP's Conservative Action Project, I have spent countless hours in strategy sessions, conference calls, press conferences, and writing and signing on to countless letters to members of Congress, the media, and the public at large.

"In this connection I have worked closely with the leaders of numerous pro-life groups, including National Right to Life, Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, American Values, Campaign for Working Families, American Center for Law & Justice, Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel, American Family Association, Christian Coalition, Students for Life, Priests for Life, Traditional Values Coalition, Christian Defense Coalition, and Operation Rescue. ...

"Unlike Jim Duncan, a 30-year member of the Democrat Party, I have never given any money, aid, or comfort to any candidate who has deserted or lied to the pro-life cause –and I never will. ...

"When I was pregnant, my physician advised me that my son's Trisomy-18 test had come back positive, and there was a strong likelihood that he would be born with a severe birth defect.  Without a moment's delay, I made clear that there would be no amniocentesis test or any other tests for any birth defect that could not be treated in utero. There would be no abortion under any circumstances. ... Today, that profound challenge is nearly 15 years old, and brawny as a bull."

LSN: What specific pro-life legislation will you propose/sponsor/support as a congressperson?

FRANK ROCHE: "Eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood will be my first effort (HR 3134). I would cosponsor HR3171 banning the sale of aborted babies remains, and HR 3504 stopping the killing babies born alive."

JIM DUNCAN: "I am in favor of any legislation that protects unborn innocent human life. ... Among the 11 current house bills in the 114th Congress, I would gladly support, sponsor, or co-sponsor any of them (HRs 7, 36, 217, 803, 2621, 3134, 3171, 3245, 3495, 3504, 3515)."

KAY DALY: "Unlike Ms. Ellmers, I would have signed the July 2015 letter from three dozen pro-life Republican congressmen that said 'we cannot and will not support any funding for Planned Parenthood.' I will never vote for any spending bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood, and I will fight to add the 'defund Planned Parenthood' proviso as a policy rider to every continuing resolution and 'must pass' bill. Unlike Ms. Ellmers, I oppose taxpayer funding of abortion and will vote against any bill that spends taxpayer money on abortion. ...

"Even after the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos exposed Planned Butcherhood's practice of selling baby parts for profit, Ms. Ellmers refused to co-sponsor HR 3245 (prohibiting government contracts with entities that donate to Planned Parenthood), HR 3429 (prohibiting the purchase or sale of human fetal tissue), HR 3215 (End Trafficking of the Terminated Unborn Act), HR 3171 (prohibiting certain research on aborted babies), and HR 3197 (Protecting Life and Taxpayers Act). I would have co-sponsored all five of these bills.

"Unlike Ms. Ellmers, in the current session of Congress I would have co-sponsored HR 816 ("Life at Conception Act"), HR 426 ("Sanctity of Human Life Act"), and HR 492 ("Ultrasound Informed Consent Act"). Unlike Ms. Ellmers, I would have co-sponsored HR 61 ("Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act"), HR 732 ("Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act"), HR 1122 ("Pro-Life Act" stopping tax dollars for schools that provide on-campus access to abortion providers), and HR 2764 (Sanctity of Life Act)."

LSN: Do you support a constitutional amendment recognizing babies conceived as human persons and recognizing their right to life?

FRANK ROCHE: "Yes."

JIM DUNCAN: "Yes, I would support that amendment. Although I also believe that our Declaration of Independence already establishes the right to life and is one of the core principles in the founding documents of our nation. ... Life is an inalienable right granted by God. Neither man nor woman has the right to deny the life of a child."

KAY DALY: "I unequivocally support such an amendment and have done so publicly for twenty years. Each time the matter is debated during the formulation and voting on state and national party platforms, I have stood firmly for insisting that a plank supporting such an amendment be adopted."

LSN: Under what circumstances, if any, do you believe that abortion should be legal (e.g., rape, incest, to preserve the life of the mother)?

FRANK ROCHE: "The life of the mother."

JIM DUNCAN: "I am pro-life across the board. ... Violence against an unborn child is not the answer to rape or incest; it only creates more violence. Likewise, with today's modern medicine, there is almost no known medical condition that a childbearing mother could have where the child's life could not be saved. ... Additionally, there must be more strategic litigation by pro-life people to fight the Roe v. Wade case."

KAY DALY: "None. I am unabashedly and 100% pro-life, no exceptions. I reject the notion that a pre-born baby's right to life should be contingent on his age (i.e., stage of development), whether he was conceived through consensual sex, whether his biological parents are related, or his mother's emotional well-being/psychological health. Although I acknowledge the legitimate philosophical question presented by a pregnancy that is defined to represent a very high risk of death to the mother, I am informed by sources I trust, including the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, that such pregnancies are scarce beyond belief in the 21st century.

"Countless physicians have stated countless times that instances in which an abortion is truly necessary to save the life of the mother are nearly mythological. The constant, repetitive incantation of this myth by pro-aborts to attempt to create death loopholes in statutes designed to protect the unborn is simply not justified by medical science. As such, I do not support the inclusion of such death loopholes in pro-life legislation. ...

"I defend every individual's right to life from conception through natural death. I will introduce and champion legislation to protect all pre-born babies, including legislation to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear appeals of cases concerning abortion."

LSN: Do you support the overturn of the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalizing same-sex "marriage"?

FRANK ROCHE: "No."

JIM DUNCAN: "Obergefell v. Hodges was not consistent with our Constitution. In my opinion, it should be overturned because it is a usurpation of democratic power in its worst form – nine unelected judges decided the law of the land. This is exactly the type of abuse our Constitution was supposed to protect against. ... Marriage is a holy institution, and not the prerogative government. Marriage is for the commitment of one's life to another, with a goal of procreation and growth of the family unit."

KAY DALY: "Yes. Obergefell is wrongly decided. It brazenly eschews centuries of jurisprudence and the clear will of the people. ... It should be ignored in the short term, and overruled in the long term. ...

"Hours before argument was had in that very case, I stood at the lectern and faced the news media on the steps of the Supreme Court building, delivering petitions to the Court, and encouraging the American public to awaken to the corruption of our judicial system by those who have no respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. ...

"What our Founders called abominable 'crimes against nature,' this Court has called a constitutional right.  What our Founders considered the unconscionable murder of innocent pre-born babies, this Court now considers a birthright. ... George Washington told us we should pray to God for guidance and wisdom before every public meeting; the Courts now tell us that to do so is a thing of evil, offensive to our constitution, and forbidden to our elected officials. ...

"The Constitution has been completely rewritten in the last fifty years, turned on its head to mean the opposite of what its Founders clearly intended.  Proverbs tells us that 'he who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous are both an abomination to God.' Is this not precisely what this Court now does? Does it not exalt the homosexual and the atheist and the abortionist above the interests of the believers amongst our citizenry? Those who harbor traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs in matters of morality are now firmly in the crosshairs of our judicial system.

"This is not the work of the Founders; it is the work of the judges and justices who have hijacked our democracy, and it is time for us to take it back."

LSN: What specific legislation will you sponsor or support to preserve heterosexual marriage and protect religious freedom?

FRANK ROCHE: "I believe in traditional marriage as base for a stable society. I will fight to remove the federal government from the religious institution of marriage, and allow states to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Civil unions can be used for non-traditional marriage."

JIM DUNCAN: "I support the Defense of Marriage Act as it is currently written. However, since the Supreme Court has ruled against it, I would propose that the government get out of the marriage business altogether. A religious contract under the guidance of scripture should remain with the church."

KAY DALY: "I will introduce and champion legislation to restore the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy that prohibited confessed homosexuals from serving in the military. I will introduce and champion legislation to restore the Defense of Marriage Act and all federal and state statutes that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. I will never vote for any spending bill that includes funding for the executive branch's enforcement of the Supreme Court's Windsor and Obergefell decisions. I will fight to add a 'defund Windsor and Obergefell enforcement' proviso to every continuing resolution and 'must pass' bill. I will also introduce and champion legislation to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear appeals of cases concerning the definition of marriage.

"Unlike Ms. Ellmers, I would have joined the 104 congressmen who co-sponsored HR 3133 (Marriage and Religious Freedom Act of 2013). Unlike Ms. Ellmers, I would join the 152 congressmen who have co-sponsored HR 2802 (First Amendment Defense Act of 2015). Unlike Ms. Ellmers, I support the marriage plank in the national GOP platform ('Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage')."

LSN: Would you vote to fund, or allow, embryonic stem cell research?

FRANK ROCHE: "No."

JIM DUNCAN: "I do not support the use of embryonic stem cells for research, because taxpayers should not be funding the taking of human life. As witnessed with the recent Planned Parenthood videos, there is a line that must never be crossed under the definition of life. These embryos are a human life and not a commodity or harvest for organs and tissue."

KAY DALY: "I would most emphatically oppose such legislation. Such research is but a step down the slippery slope to harvesting of organs and other body parts. ...

"Treating human flesh as a marketable commodity is fraught with danger.  It is an especially heinous practice when the flesh did not consent to its use as a subject for medical research. ... I would certainly not be a voice in support of such activity in Congress."

LSN: What is your position on physician-assisted suicide?

FRANK ROCHE: "I oppose physician-assisted suicide."

JIM DUNCAN: "I am against all forms of suicide and am especially concerned that legal physician-assisted suicide is susceptible to abuse. However, it does not mean that I am against the elimination of suffering. I support efforts to comfort and support the ill and dying, including the use of pain medications for compassionate care during the end of life."

KAY DALY: "As I do not condone any suicide, so do I not condone assisted suicide, whether that be by a physician or anyone else. All life comes from God, and all human life is to be taken by God, or by His sanction. ... 'Physician-assisted' is a gross usurpation of the judgment of God in a very significant and important matter, and I have never supported or condoned it."

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