Pro-life group backs Thompson, draws ire
Some pro-life advocates were astonished by the National Right to Life Committee’s endorsement of Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson on Nov. 13 — a move they say puts politics over principle.
Paul M. Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation, said the endorsement “makes no sense,” and speculated that it was motivated by money.
“I think in all probability the Thompson people were engaged with the National Right to Life people in financial dealing,” said Mr. Weyrich, who endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.
“In the past, the Republican Party has funded National Right to Life, and while the committee can raise money on its own, it needs funding” from outside sources.
“Fred Thompson has a 100 percent pro-life voting record in the U.S. Senate and is proud to have the endorsement of an organization that fights to protect human life,” said Thompson spokesman Darrel Ng.
David O’Stein, the committee’s executive director, also scoffed at the assertion.
“He’s got to be joking,” Mr. O’Stein said. “There is absolutely no financial arrangement between the committee and the Thompson campaign or Fred Thompson.”
Mr. Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, opposes the plank in the national Republican Party platform that calls for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban abortion.
The National Right to Life Committee supports a constitutional ban, but Mr. Thompson suggested that “young girls” who have abortions would be thrown in jail and even prosecuted for murder.
Mr. Thompson, who favors returning to state legislatures the power to declare abortion legal or illegal, also said parents of underage girls seeking abortions could be charged with aiding and abetting in a crime, when defining his stance during a “Meet the Press” interview with NBC’s Tim Russert on Nov. 4.
“That’s insulting” to the pro-life movement, Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women of America, told The Washington Times.
“I have never heard anybody [in the pro-life movement] say that,” Mrs. Wright said. “I found that more egregious than his opposing the Human Life Amendment [the proposed constitutional amendment to ban abortions], which everybody understands is a long-range goal, given the political climate.”
A Massachusetts pro-life advocate agreed that proponents of an amendment want criminal sanctions only against doctors and others who perform abortions but not against women — of any age — who allow someone to terminate their pregnancies.
“It certainly seems to be an example of the committee putting politics before principles,” said Tom Shields, chairman of the Coalition for Family and Marriage in Massachusetts and a Romney supporter.
“I don’t know how one can call himself pro-life when as a candidate or organization he has said the sorts of things candidate Thompson has said.”
After the Russert interview, Mr. Thompson clarified his position, saying, “I can run on the Republican platform.”
The pro-life committee said it consulted its state chapter presidents in deciding who to endorse.
“Fred Thompson has had a strong, consistent pro-life record throughout his political career,” Wanda Franz, the National Right to Life Committee president, said at the announcement of the group’s endorsement in Washington.