A controversial proposal to deny campaign funding to Republican candidates who won’t support a ban on partial-birth abortions was rejected Jan. 16 by the Republican National Committee (RNC), following a vigorous campaign against the proposal by Party Chairman Jim Nicholson.
Nicholson, joined by House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and prominent pro-life Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois, warned that imposing such a funding ban could cost the party its majorities in the House and Senate.
Hyde, whose impeccable pro-life credentials gave credibility to Nicholson’s efforts, said, “The worst thing you can do for the pro-life cause is lose our majority.”
Hyde added, “Partial birth abortion is a re-enactment of Calvary. But if you read these people out of the party, they can never come over to our side.”
The RNC voted down the proposal 114-43. Instead, the committee took the relatively meaningless step of criticizing President Clinton for twice vetoing bills that would have banned partial-birth abortion, and called on him to “yield to the overwhelming will” of the public and sign a ban.
For nearly two decades, the national platform of the Republican Party has stated that life begins at conception and that all abortions should be banned. However, the party has never translated its rhetoric into concrete action.
Nicholson said it was important that the Republican Party not close its doors to party members who do not agree with GOP positions on every issue. Noting that more than 350 Democratic officeholders had switched parties in recent years because they felt abandoned by the Democratic Party, Nicholson said, “Unlike the other party, we won’t begin, I hope, defining away our friends.”
Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, criticized Nicholson’s campaign against the proposal, saying, “Would the party of Lincoln embrace the practice of slavery today if it reappeared? Is there any principle or belief that would result in restricted funding? If not, you stand for nothing.”
Tim Lambert of Texas, who proposed the funding ban, also compared the issue to the debate over slavery which led to the creation of the anti-slavery Republican Party. He said the party would once again secure its political base by taking a strong moral stand. “This is not only the right thing to do morally, it’s the right thing to do politically,” he said. Lambert accused the party leadership of being “out of touch” with the grass roots.
RNC member Bunny Chambers, from Oklahoma, added, “I never would have thought we would be here debating whether we would give financial support to people who support infanticide.”
In a partial-birth abortion, the abortionist brings the baby through the birth canal feet-first, then stabs the baby in the skull while its head is still inside the mother. The brain is then sucked out, the skull crushed, and the dead baby removed. A New York Times/CBS poll released the day of the RNC vote found that 73 percent of those surveyed believe partial-birth abortion should be prohibited. Such wide opposition suggests that partial-birth abortion could be a winning issue for Republicans.
– E.P. News