- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 19, 2000

Madame Christine Boutin. Those three words should be enough to make Planned Parenthood want to change its name. Claiming to be the only pro-life member of the French parliament, she is demanding the French respect life for the aged and the unborn and that they guard the sanctity of marriage. So she has come to America to find support for her efforts, with a determined passion for pro-life issues that should make U.S. presidential hopefuls who have thus far waffled on the issue a little nervous.

As a one-woman revolution machine she recently sent 100,000 Frenchmen to the streets of Paris to fight against a bill allowing homosexual marriage. She has created a pro-life group that has attracted 20,000 members. As though that wasn't enough to shake up her countrymen, this grandmother of two is planning to run for president.

Does she expect to win? "I hope to score 10 percent" of the vote in the 2002 election, she told The Washington Times in a meeting here last week. "It would encourage voters to 'prolifen' [French President Jacques] Chirac," she said. Despite the fact that she would need over 50 percent of the vote to win the position, she would be happy to influence the composition of the next parliament and to bring pro-life issues to the front of the national agenda.

So she's started her issues campaign two years early. How has this woman survived in the French parliament for 15 years? "Many of them think the way I think but are not brave enough to speak out," she said about her fellow parliamentarians.

It may not be so different here. None of the U.S. presidential front-runners have made pro-life issues the center of their campaigns this has been left to candidates like Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes, who have had no hope of succeeding. Vice President Al Gore and Bill Bradley have clearly supported a woman's right to choose, and Sen. John McCain has waffled on the issue. He would let his daughter make her own decision on abortion, he said initially, and says termination of the fetus is acceptable in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is threatened. Even George W. Bush, hailed as the candidate of choice by the National Right to Life, has said he personally supports those exceptions and has not made the abortion issue a focus of his campaign.

Perhaps a Madame Boutin would be worth importing for the next presidential round. The real question is whether the American people would be ready.

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