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The Ripon Forum - Editorial

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The Ripon Forum - Editorial

Recent Opinion Editorial in The Ripon Forum

by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference

Thirty-two years after the legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, the majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life. One would expect that a ruling of such proportions as Roe v. Wade would have achieved a general acceptance among the public for abortion, especially when it has been so strongly promoted by the media, popular culture, and the judiciary. The fact that so many self-identified pro-choice individuals are still troubled with an unlimited right of abortion is a powerful statement as to where this country stands on abortion and where the Republican Party should focus its attentions.

The Republican Party has made great strides in passing pro-life legislation. The recent enactment of both the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act are testimony to the support behind a compassionate society that protects the most innocent and most helpless among us—the unborn child. The passage of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act officially and legally recognized the basic rights of all human life and all children born alive, regardless of their stage of development. Once a baby is completely born, independent of the mother, he or she now receives the full protection and dignity afforded to you or me.

The common-sense legislation that was passed upholds a basic principle which I believe we should all agree—no matter if you are Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, male or female, black or white, rich or poor, young or old—that every life is sacred and every life is endowed with dignity. Yet there are still steps for us to take—steps with broad support.

We should also all agree that no person or entity should be forced, against their will or conscience, to provide, refer for, or pay for an abortion. No one should be forced to choose to be involved in an abortion or be put at risk of losing their funding. Healthcare entities (physicians, other health professionals, hospitals, provider-sponsored organizations, health maintenance organizations, and health insurance plans) should not be coerced into providing abortion services that they believe to be morally wrong, and they certainly should not be discriminated against because of their objections to providing or paying for abortions.

Second, the Republican Party must stop allowing Democrats to impose an ideological litmus test on judicial nominees. In the 108th Congress, the Democrats, in unprecedented obstructionism, used the cloture vote to deny up-or-down floor votes to ten highly qualified nominees, all of whom had bipartisan majority support and would have been confirmed if given a vote. It is wrong to require that a nominee promise to uphold Roe v. Wade in order to be confirmed because it compromises their ability to rule fairly as a judge. Therefore, we should ensure a fair confirmation process and nominate judges who uphold the constitutionality of the law, not those who seek to usurp the power of the people.

Additionally, women need to know that alternatives to abortion exist, and that resources are available for them at these times. We must continue to support, educate, and care for women who are considering abortions, have had abortions, or are facing a daunting future of raising a child on their own. Republicans must work to ensure that they are provided with adequate support and information.

For example, while an uncomfortable truth, women have the right to be informed of the overwhelming scientific data that suggest that unborn children beyond twenty weeks are capable of feeling pain. Knowing the facts surrounding an abortion procedure allows women to understand the weight of this potentially life-changing decision.

Lastly, we must commit our efforts to advancing initiatives that offer compassionate, life-affirming choices and support to women facing unplanned pregnancies. Not every woman facing an unplanned pregnancy knows that supportive services exist. Many believe that the future they had planned is no longer achievable. They feel alone and abandoned. Often they mistakenly think that abortion is their only real choice.

Women need to know that they have a choice and that people are there to help. To that end, we should provide women with alternatives to abortion through programs that support crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes already working to meet women's needs at these times. In one initiative, a grant program would link women to a network of supportive organizations who are ready and willing to offer assistance in the form of pregnancy testing, adoption information, prenatal and postpartum health care, maternity and baby clothing, food, diapers, and information on childbirth and parenting.

In the end, the debate over abortion will not be won by the Republican Party but by individuals, families, organizations, and community groups who reach out and support those in need—especially young women facing crisis pregnancies. The Republican Party, however, can continue to provide a safety net for hospitals and health professionals who choose not to perform abortion services; confirm judges who will follow the law, not make the law; and support community-based services for women. In doing so, the Party will be welcoming the majority of the public who believe that abortion is a tragedy and preys on the most vulnerable in our society.

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