What Fred Thompson Needs to Know About the Human Life Amendment

Fred Thompson tripped over the abortion issue in his debut as a presidential candidate on “Meet the Press.”

Host Tim Russert read Thompson the Pro Life Plank from the 2004 Republican Party Platform, which has remained unchanged since the days of Ronald Reagan:

We say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution. We endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions.

Russert then asked Thompson,

Could you run as a candidate on that platform, promising a human life amendment banning all abortions?

Thompson said,


Here’s what Fred Thompson needs to know about party platforms, the Human Life Amendment, and abortion – an issue about which he cares deeply.

  1. A party platform is a set of principles, goals, and strategies designed to address pressing political issues. A platform is designed to give a candidate a clear political position on the issues and give the electorate a sense of how the candidate will address the issues.
  2. Every goal cannot be met by a single administration.
  3. Although the platform mentions a human life amendment, a president has no vote on a proposed constitutional amendment which must pass each house of Congress by a two-thirds vote before it is handed off to the states for ratification.
  4. A president can, however, use the bully pulpit to try to influence the American public and Congress to do the right thing.
  5. As a president – bound by this platform – it would be his job to change hearts and minds about abortion. That has been the stated goal of Ronald Reagan and every Republican president since Reagan.

Thompson told Russert, “(T)hose things (laws regulating abortion) are going to ultimately be won in the hearts and minds of people.” Then, Thompson went on to talk about how his heart was changed when he saw the sonogram of his 4-year-old daughter.

Thompson said that after seeing that sonogram, he now believes that “life begins at conception.” He admitted that, although he was a father when he was young, he was too busy at that time to give the issue of when life begins much thought.

In 1973, when the case of Roe v. Wade was decided, we didn’t have a window to the womb as we have now. The Supreme Court punted on the issue of when life begins and instead denied the unborn “personhood.”

Today, scientists agree that the unborn child is a living human being. It really doesn’t matter what Thompson or anyone else “thinks” or “feels.” That is a fact! We are not debating that point anymore. What is being debated is whether a court or a legislature has the right to decide if some human beings have the right to life while others do not. Some so-called ethicists are on record as advocating that “personhood” be withheld from young children until they become responsible moral agents. Under that scenario, children deemed to be “defective” would be fair game.

Thompson believes in states’ rights but is a state’s right absolute? How Thompson would feel if a state decided to pass a law that says “personhood” will be denied children under the age of five?

As the Pro-Life Plank in the Republican Party Platform so clearly states, denying the unborn a right to life does not square with the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.

By signing onto this plank, Thompson would be promising to appoint strict constructionist judges who would not legislate from the bench or try to undermine the protections in the Fourteenth Amendment, not only for the unborn, but for the sick, elderly and infirm.
At a campaign stop in South Carolina, Thompson indicated that he had given Russert’s question more thought and sought to clarify his position.

I can run on the Republican Platform . . . I have a different priority in terms of how to achieve the same objective. I think Roe v. Wade should be changed with good judges following the law. . . (E)ven when Republicans had control of the Senate, we could not move that (constitutional amendment) forward. . .

Thompson is a good man but not glib.

This puts social conservatives in a quandary. Can they support a man like Mitt Romney, who has a dismal record on this issue but is now skillfully saying all the right things, or a man with a perfect record who says some of the right things, wrong?

5 thoughts on “What Fred Thompson Needs to Know About the Human Life Amendment

  1. The learning curve required by people today in understanding what Federalism means to us is rather frustratingly slow. It demonstrates just how ludicrous our education system truly is but, it’s not too late to wake up and smell the coffee.

    Judicial Activism is directly to blame for nationwide abortion, redefining marriage and undermining our family as an institution. Screwing around with our Constitution to overcome this is a wrongheaded and grave mistake in knee-jerking a solution for a symptom…it is also not our instructions on how to proceed to correct wrongs.
    Deal with the cause by appointing strict constructionist judges and boot the black-robed, self-appointed gods who are apparently above our separation of powers out.

    Fred has discussed Federalism many times and defines it for anyone willing to learn what they should already know here;

    You will then appreciate anyone offering to amend our Constitution for such wrongheaded reasons couldn’t possibly be considered to occupy the highest office of our land nor be given the pen which supposedly writes the goals of our party of values…By the way, I don’t remember voting for the people who did and I would like impeachment hearings to begin immediately.

    Wake up Jane, this article of Tarzan chest-thumping equals nothing more than the emotional outbreaks of Cheeta. You want, what you want, when you want it but, you’ll have to rely on the adults to give you what you need in the correct way.


  2. Jane, I agree with your point. A right as fundamental as life is what our Constitution
    is about. Our Constitution has been amended for huge issues like the abolition
    of slavery which was not specifically enumerated when it was originally drafted.
    Ronald Reagan was clear in his communication about the right to life of an unborn
    child. He didn’t defer to a comment on state’s rights when revealing his
    thoughts on abortion. I understand the point Thompson is attempting to make on state’s rights; that the federal government has usurpted the duties and rights of states. However, I believe he is missing the fact that an amedment to the Constitution
    declaring an unborn child’s right to live in his or her’s mother’s womb would clearly be within the orignial intent of the Constituion. I like Fred Thompson and believe he is
    a viable candidate who has what it takes to not only be President, but someone
    who could win against another Clinton. But he must clarify his stand in order to
    rally Conservatives who would like to support someone like a Ronald Reagan.


  3. Jane,

    Fred Thompson is not Ronald Reagan. Richard Nixon even said that Thompson was dumb. It is becoming more and more obvious that Thompson is not real introspective, and that he would be okay as president but not great. The only Republican candidate who can defeat Hillary is Rudy Giuliani. I take Giuliani at his word that he will appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, he will be far better than Bush at protecting the borders, and will be an upgrade over Bush in others ways in fighting terrorism.


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