Anti-abortion group's endorsement of Thompson draws fire
Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson has won the support of a major anti-abortion group, but the endorsement is drawing ridicule...
Los Angeles Times
Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson has won the support of a major anti-abortion group, but the endorsement is drawing ridicule and anger from others in the movement, underscoring deep divisions on the religious right.
The political arm of the National Right to Life Committee is scheduled to endorse Thompson today. Executive Director David O'Steen predicted Monday that the announcement would prompt "pro-life people across the nation to coalesce" behind the former senator from Tennessee, who is lagging in the polls in early primary states.
But Thompson is far from a consensus choice.
During his Senate career, he consistently voted the anti-abortion position. But he once worked as a lobbyist for a liberal group seeking to relax restrictions on abortion. In an early political race, he indicated support for legal abortion throughout the first trimester.
And Monday, he said he would not back a federal constitutional amendment criminalizing abortion — a plank of the Republican platform for more than one-quarter century, contending it was more realistic to appoint conservative judges to outlaw abortion or let the states decide whether the procedure should be legal.
"What I have concentrated on is a way to get to the same goal [to ban abortion] that's achievable. We could not get to first base on an amendment when we controlled both houses and the presidency," Thompson said.
"Now the question is, what do you do about that? Well, I think the answer is to get better judges and to appoint people to the Supreme Court and hopefully someday Roe vs. Wade will be overturned. That's my goal. That's my priority," he said.
"He's saying that states can allow the killing of the unborn. That's not acceptable," said Jim Sedlak, an anti-abortion activist from Virginia.
"It seems to indicate that he's not truly pro-life," said Troy Newman, a Kansas activist.
National Right to Life board members would not comment Monday on their decision.
With 3,000 local chapters, National Right to Life is the nation's largest anti-abortion group; it publishes a monthly newsletter, funds radio and TV broadcasts and organizes local activists.
Although the group has a broad reach, it is not clear how much influence its endorsement will have.
Televangelist Pat Robertson recently endorsed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who supports abortion rights. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, a well-respected conservative, backs Arizona Sen. John McCain, who opposes abortion but has not made that a high-profile priority during his career.
And the general counsel for National Right to Life, James Bopp Jr., is working for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who once supported abortion rights but now backs a constitutional ban.
Information from the Chicago Tribune is included in this report.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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