Doing Our Homework

Norma Jean Sharp, a retired nurse from Newton, Iowa, knows what she believes. Sharp told Weekly Standard writer David Tell that she is "passionately opposed to abortion, having been abandoned on a doorstep in Wyoming as a baby." So when presidential candidate Howard Dean came to Newton, Sharp wanted to know his views on abortion. But Dean's vague answer -- that abortion was a moral problem that "we're never going to resolve" -- got past her guard. Sharp's conversation with Dean made her feel that he might be just what the country ordered. It was left to David Tell, the reporter, to ask Sharp whether she realized that Dean was "an uncompromising . . . pro-choice purist." "I immediately regretted the question," Tell writes. "It sent a cloud of distress across this nice lady's face. 'I did not know that,' she whispered, shaking her head." Soon afterward, Sharp decided to switch her allegiance to candidate John Kerry. Tell didn't "have the heart to tell Ms. Sharp that Kerry, too, is a pro-choice 100 percenter." In fact, all the current Democratic presidential candidates are pro-choice. Last January, newspapers ran a photograph of the six Democratic candidates then in the race, including Dean and Kerry, standing together at a NARAL Pro-Choice America dinner, pledging their support for Roe v. Wade. This is not to say that the debate strictly follows party lines. Plenty of Republicans support abortion, sometimes from a mistaken belief that it is more difficult for pro-life politicians to get elected. And even pro-life politicians in both parties often tiptoe around the issue, believing it's safer not to bring it up. The media and pro-abortion organizations have encouraged those beliefs. Jennifer Blei Stockman of the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition claims that "in the recent elections the 'gender gap' continued to be a serious problem for the GOP," and that it's the fault of the pro-lifers. The statistics tell a very different story. Political strategist Paul Weyrich analyzed a Zogby poll taken after last year's election and discovered that "of those people who listed abortion as their reason for voting in the election, 16 percent of the electorate said that the pro-abortion position was their reason for voting for the Democratic candidates. But 23 percent of the electorate said they voted for the Republican candidates because they took the pro-life position. This number . . . has been consistent over many years." Our politicians need to do their homework -- the pro-life position is the clear winner. David Tell writes in the Weekly Standard that telling voters like Norma Jean Sharp about the different candidates' stands on abortion will be "President Bush's job . . . if he dares." But it isn't really that scary a job, nor is it only the president's job. You and I need to find out where candidates in all parties stand, and then we need to tell others. If we believe in the sanctity of human life, we need to know what our leaders and political candidates believe about the life issues -- and we need to keep up with what they're doing and hold them accountable for their words, votes, and actions. That will only happen, however, if you and I do our homework. For further reading: Make sure you are registered to vote. David Tell, "Among the Iowa Democrats," Weekly Standard, 1/8 September 2003. Mark Stricherz, "A Moral Majority," Weekly Standard, 4 August 2003. Jennifer Blei Stockman, "GOP on Collision Course with Majority of Voters," Women's ENews, 19 March 2003. Paul Weyrich, "The Pro-Life Advantage at the Polls,", 19 November 2002. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), "The Case for Life," speech in the House of Representatives, 29 September 2003, published by Family Research Council. Nedra Pickler, "Democratic Presidential Candidates Declare Support for Abortion Rights," San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 January 2003. Daniel Henninger, "The Nonreligious Left," Wall Street Journal, 17 October 2003. Cal Thomas, "Al Gore's Abortion Lies," Jewish World Review, 1 February 2000. The Susan B. Anthony List "trains pro-life activists and candidates in the fundamentals of running a successful grassroots or political campaign" and "works to increase the percentage of pro-life women in Congress." Leslie Carbone, "A Humble Assessment," BreakPoint Online, 12 May 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 030825, "'I'm Scared . . . and I Vote!'" BreakPoint Commentary No. 031007, "Antics with Semantics: Why 'Pro-Life' Means Pro-Life." Call 1-877-3-CALLBP to request a copy of "God and Caesar: The Logic of Christian Political Responsibility," a booklet that addresses the issue of Christian engagement in the political process. Peter Kreeft, Three Approaches to Abortion (Ignatius, 2002).


Chuck Colson



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