Thursday February 4, 2010

Pro-life Leaders Respond to Criticism for Backing ‘Pro-Choice’ Brown

Swearing-in breaks Dems’ supermajority today

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 4, 2010 ( – Republican Senator-elect from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, is expected to be sworn in at 5 p.m. today, in a process speeded by his own request in order to make official his place as the 41st GOP vote – thereby breaking the Democrats’ Senate supermajority.

In recent weeks some pro-life leaders have taken heat for supporting the self-avowed “pro-choice” candidate, whose victory may have spelled the demise of the abortion-expanding federal health care reform bill. Two leaders responded this week to defend their endorsement, saying that they were up front with Brown’s pro-choice identification, but charged ahead with their support to prevent the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade from passing the U.S. Senate.

Brown’s swearing-in ceremony was originally scheduled a week from today, on February 11, but the popular candidate pushed for the earlier date, saying “it’s time to get to work.”

In the state’s January 19 special election, Brown rode a surge of conservative ire against the runaway Democrat supermajority into Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Since then, Democrat leaders have been scrambling to find a way to pass the health care bill suddenly exposed to a GOP filibuster. No clear path has yet emerged to save the measure, which was poised to unleash government funding of abortion.

Meanwhile, Brown’s rising persona as the “everyman’s” champion has drawn enormous political attention. Questions even began to arise as to his presidential potential: Brown declined to rule out a 2010 run when questioned by Barbara Walters over the weekend.

But for all his conservative support, Brown has not assumed the “everyman” image for America’s pro-life majority: he has repeatedly affirmed his “pro-choice” position, and said the decision to abort a child should be made between a woman and her doctor.

Several top pro-life leaders literally erupted in cheers when Brown’s victory last month was announced, throwing a devastating wrench in the Democrats’ pro-abortion health reform effort. Yet some pro-life and pro-family leaders, such as the American Life League and Mass Resistance, condemned the Brown support as ultimately detrimental to the cause.

A Mass Resistance column criticized some pro-life activists for having “disingenuously portrayed Brown as ‘a pro-life vote’ in the US Senate and a pro-family stalwart” in materials promoting the candidate. “It was in our opinion a shameful situation. And it wasn’t necessary,” said the group. “And because of the health-care debate and the general Obama agenda, social conservatives were not going to vote for Brown’s opponent anyway.”

In a Politics Daily piece January 24, columnist David Gibson also questioned “whether abortion opponents, whose appeal lies in the crystal clarity of their position on behalf of life in the womb and their refusal to compromise their principles, had not only erred in supporting Brown but also revealed themselves to be driven by partisan politics as much as moral imperatives.”

In an interview with (LSN) this week, Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL) President Anne Fox defended her organization’s pro-Brown campaign on several fronts. Although Brown labels himself pro-choice, she argued, he has a more pro-life record than many self-avowed “pro-life” lawmakers coming to Washington from the state.

“What we’re used to is people saying to us, I am pro-life, and then voting pro-abortion – badly,” Fox told LSN. “So here we have a fellow who says I am pro-choice, but he votes pro-life. Just looking at it from a practical point of view, we would prefer to have someone who said he was pro-life and voted pro-life.” Fox pointed out that Brown’s election took place in a state where Republicans are regularly more pro-abortion than Democrats.

Brown, she claimed, has shown consistent support for abortion restrictions. “He says [abortion] is between a woman and her doctor, but he’s willing to go in and hamstring the doctor,” she said.

The MCFL president emphasized, however, that “I would not want to see him running for president if he says he’s pro-abortion.”

The possible negative aspects of supporting a pro-choice candidate was “something we did consider,” said Fox – but she added that the immense danger of the health care bill ultimately outweighed her other concerns.

“I think [the health care bill] would be in one sense the end of the pro-life movement,” said Fox, who pointed to concerns over health rationing, conscience protection, and other major pro-life issues in the bill, even above and beyond the federal abortion funding. “We’re probably fixated on it – but I think it would have caused as many deaths as Roe v. Wade, and much less easy to undo.”

Concerned Women for America, one of many national groups that celebrated the Brown victory, also disagreed that their support amounted to an abandonment of pro-life principles.

“I think pro-lifers were quite up front regarding Scott Brown, realizing that he considered himself pro-choice, but also that he had promised to be the 41st vote against a health care bill that would mandate tax funding of abortion,” Concerned Women for America president Wendy Wright told (LSN) this week.

Wright said that while CWA “certainly didn’t anticipate that he’s going to be a strong pro-life vote,” nonetheless backing Brown was no sell-out of pro-life principles; in fact, the opposite was true, she said.

“It goes beyond political suicide to oppose him and thereby allow a hardcore, pro-abortion radical feminist to get in that office,” said Wright. “It’s more than political suicide because it would have lead to the deaths of untold numbers of unborn children.”

Wright did warn against Republicans misinterpreting Brown’s success in the deeply liberal state as a sign to lean left on the abortion issue.

“If Republicans were to walk away from the Massachusetts contest and say that that means it’s OK to run moderate to liberal candidates, they’re not looking at the reality of the situation,” said Wright. “The Republican party would be making a huge mistake if they think that’s appropriate across the board.”