Pro-life leaders ask GOP to stand strong on abortion

Sen John McCain speaks on campaign finance at USCs Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy Sept 24 Credit Rosa Trieu Neon Tommy CC BY SA 20 CNA 11 30 12 Sen. John McCain speaks Sept. 24, 2012 on campaign finance at USC's Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy. | Rosa Trieu-Neon Tommy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Top pro-life advocates are calling on the Republican Party to maintain its pro-life stance despite calls from some to back off from the position in the wake of the presidential election.

"A real soldier doesn't stay on the defensive," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which works to promote pro-life candidates and policies. "You go out and state your best case."

"The folks that have taken the stand on this issue have taken it because we're talking about defending vulnerable human life," she told CNA on Nov. 30. "If it's not about that, it's not about anything."

Dannenfelser was one of several pro-life leaders who responded to suggestions by some Republicans, including Arizona senator John McCain, that the GOP should drop or mitigate its pro-life stance in order to broaden its appeal after losing the presidential election.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday" on Nov. 25, the senator – who unsuccessfully ran for president against Barack Obama in 2008 – suggested that while "I can state my position on abortion," Republicans should "other than that, leave the issue alone when we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation that we're in."

When asked by host Chris Wallace whether his suggestion to "leave the issue alone" meant allowing "freedom of choice" to abort, McCain responded, "I would allow people to have those opinions and respect those opinions."

"I'm proud of my pro-life position and record, but if someone disagrees with me, I respect your views," he said.

Pro-life advocates immediately rejected such suggestions, arguing that the adamant support of life is both a winning battle and the right thing to do.

Dannenfelser pointed to the historic words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's loss on Election Day should not be attributed to his opposition to abortion, said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, and Brendan O'Morchoe, the organization's national field operations director.

In a Nov. 12 blog post on the group's website, Hawkins and O'Morchoe responded to pundits who were already blaming Romney's loss on his support of life.

They pointed to a FOX News exit poll from election night showing that 59 percent of voters supported legal abortion and only 36 percent opposed it.

These numbers do not reflect Gallup's recent poll showing that the majority of Americans are pro-life, they said. Rather, the low turnout shows that pro-lifers did not vote.

They suggested that Romney's relative silence on the subject hurt him at the ballot box, noting that while he said he would de-fund Planned Parenthood and sign pro-life legislation, he did not match the Democratic Party's heavy emphasis on the subject.

"If the Republican Party had made any effort to highlight President Obama's extreme pro-abortion record, we believe the results of this election would have been much different," they said.
The grim reality of resistance within both parties points to the realization that the pro-life movement must not rely on politicians in the nation's capital, they said. Rather, it must continue working to change the culture.
"Our mission of abolishing abortion in our lifetime still stands," they stated. "It will happen in our lifetime. Culture shapes politics, and our culture is becoming pro-life."

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