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?
Here’s what Fred Thompson needs to know about party platforms, the Human Life Amendment, and abortion – an issue about which he cares deeply.
- 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.
- Every goal cannot be met by a single administration.
- 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.
- A president can, however, use the bully pulpit to try to influence the American public and Congress to do the right thing.
- 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?