Wednesday, March 24, 2010
This is a more coherent recap & expansion on my earlier blog post on regulations, and why they undermine the Personhood of the unborn child -- "How We Compromise Ourselves."
I do not question the well-meaning intentions of those legislators who support, or even write, compromise legislation which tries to put limits on abortion in circumstances where a total abortion ban is not realistically possible. We can argue later about which is more "politically realistic" (I think Personhood is, still). But the fact that I believe in the good intentions of the pro-life regulators does not mean that I don't care whether they stop pushing regulations -- I do! -- or that I approve of what they're doing -- I don't! -- or that I will always continue to support regulation-minded legislators if they continue to ignore warnings about the unintended consequences of what they do.
I think the main thing “pro-life regulators” need to understand is that, whether or not Personhood is "practical" in a legal sense (which is the main objection of those pro-lifers who oppose the Personhood strategy, including Archbishop Charles Chaput and Clarke Forsythe of AUL), our primary problem as pro-lifers is that we've been making the wrong argument -- one which won't "change peoples' hearts" (which everybody agrees is the goal, and yet incrementalists are convinced they DO have the right argument).
The regulations may teach some people about the Right to Life, but more often (esp. for wishy-washy or "moderate" citizens, who are the ones we need to convince in order to succeed in passing legislation or electing legislators) regulations only suggest a "moderate" solution exists for what they are led to believe is a policy question -- where do you draw the line?
Let me restate that.
Regulations clearly “suggest” to a citizen observer that there’s a policy question, to which there are “extreme” solutions (to right or left) and “moderate” solutions. Typical American citizens being who they are, almost all of the people in this category (i.e. the moderate, middle-of-the-road people who don’t often think about policy issues, but when they do they try to find a middle ground, striving never to seem “extreme”) will seek the middle ground – the moderate way – and won’t see the larger implications of the issue at hand.
The argument pro-lifers need to make -- and Personhood makes this argument 100% of the time, while regulations may succeed in making it only 30% of the time -- is that there is an actual Right to Life which is inalienable as a principle, and may not be violated for any reason. That message comes through with Personhood, and it's making progress.
I’ll restate that too.
Personhood “suggests” to a citizen observer that abortion is most certainly NOT a policy question with a spectrum of possible solutions, but is rather a question of principles. Two principles, as it happens – either pro-life or pro-abortion. When the abortion “question” is posed as a principle, and not as a policy question, Americans are actually more likely to choose life instead of death.
Polls show something like 80-90% of Americans believe “there is a God,” even if most of them may not call themselves Christian or correctly follow the teachings of the true God. Believing in God suggests an absolute moral standard, and when the abortion question is measured against an absolute moral standard, very few Americans want to be caught on the wrong, or immoral, side. Since they’re forced to choose between a principle of “abortion is right and moral” versus “abortion is always wrong” one option stands out as more correct and more moral than the other.
That’s the “practical” reason why pro-lifers must reject regulations and embrace the Personhood strategy. The Personhood strategy accomplishes what we want to accomplish – a changing of hearts and minds in society – whereas regulations are far less effective in accomplishing the change we want.
Our message always gets muddled when we're talking about regulations, because every regulation inherently denies there is a Right to Life (if there were an inalienable, inviolable Right to Life, then there's nothing to regulate!).
Consider this line from the text of Roe v. Wade: "Endnote 54: When Texas urges that a fetus is entitled to Fourteenth Amendment protection as a person, it faces a dilemma. Neither in Texas nor in any other State are all abortions prohibited. Despite broad proscription, an exception always exists. The exception contained in Art. 1196, for an abortion procured or attempted by medical advice for the purpose of saving the life of the mother, is typical. But if the fetus is a person who is not to be deprived of life without due process of law, and if the mother's condition is the sole determinant, does not the Texas exception appear to be out of line with the Amendment's command?"
The US Supreme Court in 1972/73 didn't simply lay a roadmap for pro-lifers by noting that if you establish Personhood in law, you can protect the unborn as Persons. They also highlighted the logical error in the "pro-life with exceptions" mentality.
The key point is this: The Supreme Court logically concluded that because Texas had an exception to their anti-abortion statute*, Texas could not simultaneously argue that an unborn child was a Person under their law, because the two concepts – a regulation vs. a principle – are contradictory. The regulation always denies the principle, so if there exists a regulation, then the principle must not be the law of the land. It’s simple logic.
* A note on "life of the mother exceptions": Many pro-lifers get stuck on the “life of the mother” exception, because it’s the most compelling of the “hard cases” exceptions some regulations are meant to address (how many times have we heard politicians recite the line, "I oppose abortion except for rape, incest, and the life of the mother"?). But we need not fall victim even to the life of the mother objection. The Personhood movement cares deeply about the lives of both, mother and child, especially since if the mother dies before the baby comes to term, the child will obviously die too. However, that doesn’t mean we need a “life of the mother exception” in law. Instead, the anti-abortion statute should be absolute. The life of the mother is saved by a doctor trying to save both lives (and thereby “do no harm”), not by a doctor trying to kill one patient in order to save the other. It’s the same concept as separating cojoined twins. The goal should always be to preserve both lives. This is not always possible, because of relative viability, and so sometimes one of the patients dies. The measure of crime or not is intent. If ever the doctor attempts to kill one patient, rather than save him/her, that’s where it becomes homicide.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Warning! -- Colorado Right to Life pulls no punches! You will see relatively conservative Republican candidates called out on these pages for not being sufficiently pro-life. If we ignore Democrats, and focus on Republicans, it's only because Democrats can be assumed to be pro-abortion unless otherwise noted, and because Republican candidates have a higher responsibility to support individual freedoms such as the Right to Life, and also because too many voters assume Republicans are pro-life.
One thing Colorado Right to Life has emphasized over the last few years is that candidates will lie about being pro-life -- voters CANNOT assume a Republican is pro-life, even if they say they are.
If a candidate says they’re pro-life, ask if they support the Personhood Initiative – that’s a good rule of thumb, because if they don’t support Personhood, then they do not believe in a God-given Right to Life from the moment of their biological development (i.e. conception/fertilization) and thereafter.
There are many levels of “pro-life” which candidates use, some of which are no more genuine than Bill Ritter or John Kerry, who may be “personally pro-life” but they’re politically supportive of abortion in at least some cases. Any candidate who believes abortion is okay for any reason is “pro-abortion with exceptions.”
Therefore, please note: The fact that a candidate self-identifies as “pro-life” or even the fact that we refer to them as “reasonably pro-life” or “substantially pro-life”, or having a “pro-life voting record” does NOT mean that CRTL endorses them, or even approves of them. There are many candidates who are in agreement with us on 80 or 90% of issues but who differ with us substantially on one or more issues which contradict their "pro-life" claims. Someone who supports embryonic destruction (i.e. Embyronic Stem Cell Research) is NOT pro-life -- they support the killing of some unborn children!
If a candidate says they support Personhood, and answers 6 out of 7 of our survey questions correctly, but have a reservation or opposition on one item, we may still consider them pro-life and worthy of support, or we may believe that one issue is such a “deal-breaker” so that we will not support them. We may even recommend pro-life voters not vote for them!
Unfortunately, pending discussions, this may be the case for one or more candidate for Governor of Colorado – as it stands now, neither leading candidate has provided sufficient assurances they will protect all unborn children, though we hope to get at least one of them to bring their views into accord with ours.
Remember that we cannot always say a candidate isn't pro-life just because they have not answered our candidate survey – last election there were several clearly pro-Personhood candidates who did not respond. Excuses are many, including that they did not receive the e-mail or letter, did not see it (we only send return-receipt for major office candidates, and then only late in the campaign), don’t respond to surveys as policy (not uncommon, and reasonably understandable) or just don’t have time to respond to surveys.
Our surveys this year were sent to legislative candidates late, because we have been 100% focused on the Personhood Initiative, which is almost on the ballot but not quite. We have not surveyed all offices at all levels (not sheriff or commissioner candidates, for instance), including candidates for Secretary of State, etc.
We also have not sent to very many third-party candidates yet, because most of them do not face primary opposition (i.e. their candidacy can safely be judged later).
Personhood – support for the God-given Right to Life from the beginning of a human’s biological development until natural death – is CRTL’s only real standard for judging a candidate’s qualifications, though we do challenge candidates on several questions which relate closely to Personhood but which may be considered separate issues.
(candidate names are in no particular order -- being listed first does NOT mean we favor them!)
Candidates Whose Positions We Know (More or Less):
John Hickenlooper (D) is known to be pro-abortion.
Scott McInnis (R – Former Congressman) is the establishment candidate who the GOP thinks is “the man to beat Hickenlooper,” and he’s running as a pro-life candidate. However, CRTL has a deep skepticism as to whether his pro-life stand is sincere. He claims to have a “pro-life voting record,” but many in the pro-life movement remember him as a pro-choice candidate on at least some issues (he was what we call “pro-abortion with exceptions” when in Congress).
National Right to Life (NRTL – no current affiliation with Colorado Right to Life) scored him at 94% or 100% in each of his last 5 terms in office, however, NRTL is known to “rig” their scorecards to support Republicans even if they are substantially pro-abortion. For instance, no candidate was ever scored up or down by NRTL based on their support of a Human Life Amendment – a candidate could have (and many did) voted against every instance when an HLA (basically, Personhood) was brought to a vote, and NRTL would still consider them “pro-life.” NRTL rarely considers support for embryonic stem cell research or chemical abortifacients as a disqualifier for 100% ratings. Scott McInnis also missed several of the votes NRTL scored (avoiding being graded down), and McInnis supported at least some taxpayer funding for abortions under military health plans, etc. Pro-life activists remember times when McInnis refused to support certain proposed pro-life legislation.
McInnis claims to have “changed” over the years, as he’s grown older and has grandchildren, etc. Pro-life campaign workers have vouched for him (but they would – they’re employed by him, and campaigns carry a certain degree of “hero worship” with all volunteers).
In speaking with a CRTL activist at a recent meeting, McInnis gave these cryptic responses: 1) he will not sign the Personhood petition (“we’re not signing petitions”), 2) he won’t publicly endorse Personhood, 3) he does support Personhood (this was a private statement to an activist – not an official statement), and he has told others to support Personhood. What you make of that odd mix depends on how much you trust his sincerity. Why he would “support Personhood” but not sign the petition or endorse it is confusing. And why he would tell others to support it while not endorsing it himself is also strange.
As the campaign moves forward, it’s possible he will agree to speak with CRTL officially, and perhaps he will change his mind. As it is, we must regard his “pro-life credentials” as suspect, and perhaps motivated by his election-year need for support from pro-lifers who have shown impressive strength in recent elections.
Dan Maes (R) is considered by many to be McInnis’ most realistic conservative rival. He has signed the Personhood petition, and he has responded to CRTL’s survey, which is a promising sign just by itself. However, there are some potentially major “issues” with his survey responses and other statements.
Maes answered 6 of our 7 questions correctly, and genuinely appears to support a Right to Life from conception to natural death. However, we’re concerned by statements such as “Roe v. Wade is the law of the land” and we’re puzzled by his survey answer on Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR), where he answered “No” to whether he would oppose it.
In a phone conversation to clarify with a CRTL activist, Maes said he is opposed to ESCR except for those embryos already slated for destruction (i.e. similar to Pres. Bush’s quirky position of “no new embryos” but allowing medical experimentation on “existing lines”). CRTL has explained to him that this is like saying “you can’t imprison more Jews, but you can experiment on the ones already sentenced to death.”
Hopefully, he will reply back on that issue, and we very much hope that he will change his mind on that survey question and will become a “7 of 7” candidate – fully supportive of Personhood.
A wrong answer on ESCR, of course, means that the candidate doesn’t fully understand the concept of Personhood, which should protect any existing embryos from destructive medical experimentation, whether they’re “slated for destruction” or not.
Maes is new to the political scene, and as with many legislative candidates may not have had time to solidify his answers on all nuances of every policy. CRTL will work with him on this, but cannot recommend pro-lifers support him unless this matter is cleared up.
Republican candidate Yoon Mager’s website suggests she is “pro-abortion with exceptions” – i.e. that she supports some regulations or limits on abortion, but is otherwise supportive of the option.
Constitution Party candidate Ben Goss is known to be a strong supporter of Personhood, and has signed the Personhood petition. He hasn’t had time to reply to the CRTL issue survey.
There are other Republican candidates who we cannot find information on, or who do not have properly available contact information.
Secretary of State
This is an office where candidates will typically not take a position on anything but job-related skills. However, CRTL has reason to believe that both Republican candidates – Nancy Doty and Scott Gessler – are at least substantially pro-life, and presumably open to Personhood. We don’t have commitments from either. If either would like to fill out our survey, we welcome their responses.
Democrat incumbent Bernie Buescher is known to be pro-abortion.
This is another office where candidates usually stick to non-controversial job-skill-related competition, but this year an exception has occurred. There are three Republican candidates for Treasurer, and two of them have gotten into an exciting public contest to establish who is more pro-life!
Both JJ Ament and Ali Hasan claim to be pro-life. Ali Hasan has signed the Personhood petition, and has publicly recommended that “everyone” should sign it. JJ Ament asked for information on the Personhood Initiative, and a CRTL activist is awaiting a callback as to whether he will support the measure or not (he still has 2 days before it’s too late to sign the petition, too!). Ament seemed like he was very open to supporting Personhood, and just wanted to examine the particulars. His father, a well-known politician, was known to be pro-choice, but there’s nothing which says his son can’t be pro-life. We’ll let you know when we hear from him, for sure.
However, Ali Hasan has changed his mind also. Ament claims that until several months ago, Hasan supported all but late term abortions. CRTL has evidence that this is so, because Hasan responded to CRTL’s survey in 2008 (listed as Muhammad Ali Hasan in HD 56), answering only 2 of the 7 questions correctly. At that time, he said he respected our organization and was willing to dialogue with us on the issues – perhaps he’s given his positions some thought and has sincerely changed those positions which were at odds with ours. We hope this is so, but as with any candidate who claims to have abruptly changed his position on a controversial issue at election time, we should carefully consider before extending support. (*** see 6:30 update, below, for clarification on his position from Ali Hasan)
CRTL intends to work with both candidates (and Mr. Stapleton too, though we have not heard from him) on these issues.
This office is historically important because the Treasurer often becomes a stepping stone to the Governor's Office (Govs. Lamm, Romer and Owens, for instance).
Republican incumbent John Suthers says he is pro-life, but he publicly opposes the Personhood Initiative, preferring incremental regulatory limits.
Suthers’ office also did not cooperate with a request from pro-life groups to investigate Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains for failure to report teenage and pre-teen patients as possible rape cases (it is state law that underage pregnancies should be reported if there is a possibility that sexual abuse was involved).
Michael Bennet (D) is clearly pro-abortion, supports federal funding, Obama’s health care, etc.
Tom Wiens (R) has a pro-life voting record, has attended CRTL functions in the past, and will probably support Personhood, though when approached about it he asked for information and said he would look at it – we expect him to support Personhood, based on past experience, but he has not confirmed yet (please ask him to!).
Ken Buck (R) is a strong candidate we consider very strongly pro-life and pro-Personhood, based on conversations with him. He is on record as supporting Personhood, though we are still waiting for him to return his candidate questionnaire.
Jane Norton (R) was non-committal when asked about Personhood, avoiding commitments on several occasions. We are trying to meet with her, but have not gotten on her schedule yet.
As a cabinet officer in the Owens administration, she did end taxpayer funding for abortion services, and we commend her for that.
However, she is known to support abortion in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother (exceptions which CRTL opposes – see ), which automatically puts her at odds with the Personhood position of a Right to Life for every child from the beginning of biological development.
Cleve Tidwell (R) has responded to our survey, and answered correctly on 7 of 7 questions – he is strongly pro-Personhood. His responses to some other surveys on these issues are not as solid, but if he seems to do well in the next few days we will spend time with him to confirm his answers.
Steve Barton (R) has signed the Personhood petition, endorses Personhood, and appears to be strongly pro-Personhood.
1st Congressional District
Diana DeGette (D) is one of the most pro-abortion women in Congress. We believe there is a candidate named George Lilly running against her (Republican or Constitution Party), but we cannot find contact information.
2nd Congressional District
Again, Democrat incumbent Jared Polis is known to strongly support abortion.
Two Republicans and a Libertarian are known to be running also, but their positions on life issues are unknown. They may not have had time to respond – please help us with the process of garnering information if you know more than we do about their positions, or if you know them and can ask them to respond.
3rd Congressional District
Democrat incumbent John Salazar supports abortion.
Scott Tipton (R) has not had time to respond to our survey (he did not respond at all in 2008, though – a bad sign). Please encourage him to respond to the survey and prove our doubts wrong!
Bob McConnell (R) has responded to CRTL’s survey, and he answered 6 of 7 questions correctly – his only reservation was on the matter of supporting “regulatory” laws (which CRTL believes actually undermine the concept of Personhood, even though many pro-lifers believe regulations “save some babies”). This is a long-term discussion, and CRTL has been trying to educate the pro-life movement over a number of years, but many politicians still believe regulations are pro-life. On this particular matter, we believe strongly in a candidates’ good intentions, and we will attempt to work with the candidate to change their opinion eventually.
4th Congressional District
Democrat incumbent Betsy Markey defeated pro-Personhood Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave in 2008 using a pro-abortion, anti-social-conservative platform.
We first sent surveys to CD4 candidates in November, and both Cory Gardner (R) and Tom Lucero (R) quickly answered back with pro-Personhood “7 of 7” survey responses. Neither candidate indicated any reservations or exceptions to their support of Personhood – CRTL believes it is very promising to have two (and perhaps more) such strongly pro-life candidates in this race!
Cory Gardner also has a pro-life voting record (Tom Lucero has not been in a position to vote on life issues), Gardner was one of the standout legislators who have attended CRTL functions (legislative luncheons) in the past, and who supported Personhood at a press conference in 2008.
Gardner does have a record of supporting abortion regulations – i.e. “pro-life” legislation which means well but which may have unintended consequences – but as with other candidates this is something we regard as a matter of education and we will continue to work with Gardner on this.
He has indicated he will not support regulations in the future, and we will hold him to that.
The other two Republican candidates – Diggs Brown and Dean Madere – had not announced when we sent our first surveys, and they may not have had time to respond. Neither indicates a pro-life stance on their websites (if you know differently, please let us know).
Mike Nelson is a Unity Party candidate, and he responded to our survey that in no uncertain terms he supports “abortion rights” 100%. He is clearly hostile to the concept of Personhood.
5th Congressional District
To the best of our knowledge, pro-Personhood Congressman Doug Lamborn is running without primary opposition this year. While he has not yet responded to our survey, he has supported Personhood (Human Life Amendment) legislation at the national level and we are confident his support will continue.
6th Congressional District
Incumbent Republican Mike Coffman ran on a strong pro-Personhood platform in 2008, and we have no reason to believe that has changed
7th Congressional District
Democrat incumbent Ed Perlmutter is pro-abortion.
Republican Ryan Frazier has not responded to CRTL’s candidate survey, even after repeated requests over 5 months’ time. He is believed to be either pro-choice or not sufficiently pro-life in his stands, but we would love to hear if someone has evidence to the contrary. We’d love it even more if someone would ask him to return his survey!
There are other Republican candidates running, but they may not have had time to respond since many of them only entered recently.
Pro-Personhood candidate Jimmy Lakey, who quickly responded in November with a “7 of 7” survey record, has unfortunately decided not to continue in the race.
State Senate District 1
Update (6:30) - From Ali Hasan, to clarify his position (which sounds like it is similar to his "2 or 3 out of 7" position from 2008) -- we appreciate his honest answer, and will continue to dialogue with him in coming years. Thank you.
Here are my important stances:
1. Personhood - I did sign the Personhood petition, for the sake of getting that initiative onto the ballot.
2. Planned Parenthood - I do not support subsidizing abortions by sending money to Planned Parenthood.
3. Euthanasia - I am completely against all forms of euthanasia.
I hope that helps - peace and love to you and God Bless!
Republican Candidate for State Treasurer
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Responses on these points will be posted here as we get them. Tomorrow (Monday) I hope to have a full set of the surveys we've received, as well as an indicator of what we know about certain other candidates who have not responded.
You can help us out -- ask your candidates where they stand, and let us know! Also, ask them to return their candidate surveys.
Remember your caucus meeting is Tuesday -- Democrats and Republicans (and maybe some other parties) gather in neighborhood meeting to elect delegates, who then vote on which candidates will move on to the primary election.
Often, there will be 2-3 Republican candidates running for an office, and one or more of them may be pro-abortion to one degree or another.
We'll be identifying those people for you.
We will also be surveying Democrats -- in some races there are 3-4 Democrats running, and one or more of them may be pro-life.
Go to your county or state party website to find locations for your caucus. You do not need to know what candidates you're supporting in order to go, although people may ask. You can simply say you support conservative candidates who are pro-life, and that may be enough to get you elected as a delegate.
The more pro-life delegates we have at the assemblies, the more pro-life candidates will be on the ballot!