Updated May 31, 2011 at 8:55 a.m. MDT. Correction to paragraph 5 to change the reference to International Planned Parenthood Federation to Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Congressman Chris Smith says that Catholics in the Republican Party should have three priorities when it comes to picking the 2012 GOP candidate for president – human rights, debt reduction and pro-life issues.
“I do think we need a man or woman who is totally committed to the culture of life and not just in name only or symbolically but somebody who really believes in the family and in the preciousness of all life, including the child in the womb,” the New Jersey congressman, who is Catholic himself, told CNA during a recent visit to Rome.
Congressman Smith believes that another term for Barack Obama would be a disaster for the pro-life movement.
“President Obama is the abortion president. …If he gets in for four more years he’ll be untethered.”
“Look at the stand Obama took on the threat to withdraw funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America from the U.S. budget,” Smith remarked.
“He said, ‘I’ll shut down the government before I don’t fund Planned Parenthood.’ So his priorities couldn’t have been clearer. His priority will be to fund all pro-abortion, non-governmental organizations to the max.”
The New Jersey congressman also pointed to a recent vote in Kenya on a new constitution. “Look at what happened recently in Kenya where we (the US government) spent 61.5 million dollars and funded 83 non-governmental organizations to change their constitution to include a right to abortion.”
Rep. Smith also sees the balance of the Supreme Court being in jeopardy. “Obama will pack the Supreme Court too. The only realistic way that Roe v. Wade will be repealed is through the courts. If he gets a chance to put one or two more judges on (the bench), then a generation will be lost and over a million kids a year will suffer the cruelty of abortion.”
On economic issues, the congressman said he would like to see a presidential candidate committed to debt reduction, describing the present levels of U.S. as “unsustainable.”
His third and final area for concern is human rights, something he believes the Obama administration is failing on.
“Religious freedom has been demoted. The Obama administration is pushing, sadly, the gay rights agenda globally and doing it very aggressively,” Smith said.
He says a similar agenda is being pursued at home, leading to Catholic adoption agencies and foster services being closed down. As of May 27, agencies have been forced to close in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Rockford, Ill.
“It’s not just a matter of ‘let people be people and do what they want to do.’ It then gets rather coercive in that you can’t be involved in things like, for example, adoption work,” Smith said.
The chances of having a candidate who meets all those criteria are “extraordinarily good,” in Rep. Smith’s estimation.
“The Republican Party is the pro-life party. And I say the next with deep regret – the Democrat Party has become the party of abortion. Ninety-five percent of our members in the House on the Republican side are pro-life and 90 percent of the Democrat side is pro-abortion.”
As for an individual candidate, is Congressman Smith backing the most high-profile Catholic to enter the race so far, Newt Gingrich?
“I haven’t made up my mind on any candidate yet. I know Speaker Gingrich very well. He has become a Catholic and I believe it’s a real conversion.”
“But we have other candidates running who are totally pro-life as is he. Hopefully we get the strongest candidate.”
The U.S. presidential election will take place on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.