Pro-life ac­tivists on fence over Trump

Trou­bled by his re­cent switch from pro-choice

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Pro-life ac­tivists are ex­cited about the GOP pres­i­den­tial field, but still have reser­va­tions about front-run­ner Don­ald Trump, who used to be adamantly pro-choice and who they fear has had a weak con­ver­sion.

Ral­ly­ing out­side the Capi­tol on Thurs­day, call­ing for an end to fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood, ac­tivists said they be­lieve they are on the of­fen­sive and hope to have a nom­i­nee to help lead their fights.

Sen. Rand Paul, who ad­dressed the rally, was among the ac­tivists’ fa­vorites, as were Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Ru­bio of Florida, neu­ro­sur­geon Ben Car­son and busi­ness­woman Carly Fio­r­ina.

The jury, though, is out on Mr. Trump, who has been open about his evo­lu­tion from pro-choice to pro-life, has pledged to sup­port a 20-week abor­tion ban, and said he would de­fund Planned Par­ent­hood if they con­tinue to pro­vide abor­tions.

“All I am go­ing to say is, ugh, night­mare, night­mare,” said Sharon Con­klin, 70, from Florida. “No. I don’t think he is pro-life. I don’t care what he says now. Six months ago he was way [for] par­tial birth abor­tion, you name it, it was OK with him.”

Ms. Con­klin said she gets high-blood pres­sure talk­ing about Mr. Trump and said she is so sick of see­ing him on her tele­vi­sion that she is think­ing about putting her foot through it.

Lance Ogren, 41, of Ten­nessee, was will­ing to cut Mr. Trump some slack, say­ing the “Ap­pren­tice” star is not as strong on pro-life is­sues as Mr. Cruz, but “ul­ti­mately he would be good for the na­tion as well.”

“First of all, he is all about be­ing a fighter for the great­ness of our coun­try and if there is any mark against the great­ness of our coun­try it is that we con­tinue to slaugh­ter ba­bies for what­ever rea­son,” Mr. Ogren said.

Mr. Trump is lead­ing na­tional polls, and out­paced his closet ri­val, Mr. Car­son, by a 32 per­cent to 19 per­cent mar­gin in a na­tional CNN/ORC sur­vey re­leased this week.

He is also polling ahead of his ri­vals in Iowa and South Carolina, hosts of early nom­i­na­tion con­tests, where re­li­gious and so­cial con­ser­va­tives play a piv­otal role in tap­ping a win­ner.

“I think the fact that he is still ahead among most Evan­gel­i­cals in Iowa is an in­di­ca­tion that he is meet­ing a min­i­mal stan­dard about be­ing able to speak di­rectly about abor­tion to at least make him ac­cept­able to a large per­cent­age of pro-life vot­ers,” said Frank Cannon, head of Amer­i­can Prin­ci­ples in Ac­tion, a con­ser­va­tive group.

“Of course there are peo­ple, who have made this a cause, like Mike Huck­abee, Rick San­to­rum, and oth­ers, through­out their ca­reers, that may get peo­ple to say, ‘Look they de­serve our sup­port much more,’” Mr. Cannon said. “But I don’t think he has done what [for­mer New York City Mayor] Rudy Guil­liani did a few years ago, which was man­age to be un­ac­cept­able to pro-life base.”

Fu­eled by se­cretly taped videos that ap­pear to show Planned Par­ent­hood of­fi­cials ne­go­ti­at­ing the sale of or­gans of aborted fe­tuses, to be used for re­search, pro-life ac­tivists said the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment is ripe to de­liver a ma­jor blow.

“There comes a time in the history of na­tions when we must take a stand, we must de­cide whether we will take a stand for life. I don’t know about the rest of Congress, but I plan on tak­ing a stand and say­ing ‘Not one penny more for Planned Par­ent­hood,’” Mr. Paul said.

For his part, Mr. Trump has joined the fight against Planned Par­ent­hood and said that he has evolved on the is­sue abor­tion over the years.

Dur­ing a 1999 ap­pear­ance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Trump said he was “very pro-choice,” though he added, “I hate the con­cept of abor­tion.” He changed his stance about a decade later.

“I’ve very much evolved,” Mr. Trump said at the first GOP de­bate last month. “And what hap­pened is friends of mine years ago were go­ing to have a child, and it was go­ing to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child to­day is a to­tal su­per­star, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other in­stances.”

“And I am very, very proud to say that I am pro­life,” he said.

Still, his stance on Planned Par­ent­hood left room for ac­tivists to be wor­ried.

“He made a com­ment about fund­ing Planned Par­ent­hood as long as they didn’t do abor­tion, and that was trou­bling to me,” said Iva Gra­hek, of Mary­land.

“If you are look­ing at the top ten or twelve [can­di­dates] based on the pro-life move­ment and what is go­ing on there, he drops con­sid­er­ably to the bot­tom of the list,” Ms. Gra­hek, 56, said.

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