- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

EDITORIAL:

Despite a two-decade-plus strong pro-life voting record, John McCain has long had a difficult relationship with conservatives. But Sarah Palin and a strong pro-life plank in the Republican platform could go a long way to ease some of the concerns of social conservatives. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution,” the platform says. “We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.”

John McCain has a zero vote rating from Planned Parenthood, a leading abortion-rights organization. The National Right to Life PAC, which endorses Mr. McCain’s presidential candidacy, says he “has a solid voting record against abortion and has cast 31 pro-life votes since 1997, including a vote against endorsing Roe v. Wade.” In making the endorsement, the National Right to Life PAC also notes that Mr. McCain voted to confirm President Bush’s nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito as justices of the Supreme Court.

Mr. McCain has had some disagreements with pro-life groups. Although he opposes cloning and the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes, Mr. McCain has voted in favor of embryonic stem-call research. (However, he has also suggested that some advances in adult stem-cell research might make embryonic stem-cell-research “academic.”) In 1999 and 2000, as he was launching his first presidential campaign, Mr. McCain and the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) squared off over the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance legislation. The NRLC made a powerful case that McCain-Feingold would cripple the ability of issue-oriented groups to raise money and get their message to the American people - in other words, that it violated the First Amendment. During that same period, Mr. McCain and his aides denounced the NRLC for attempting to “turn … a cause into a business,” suggesting that opposition to McCain-Feingold was motivated primarily by greed. McCain-Feingold was enacted into law two years later, and there is no question that disagreement over the issue created a bitter divide between Mr. McCain and pro-life activists for much of the past decade.

But when abortion itself has been the issue (as opposed to free speech), the overwhelming thrust of Mr. McCain’s voting record has been pro-life. He has voted against federal funding of organizations that promote or perform abortions. He voted for legislation barring minors from being taken across state lines for the purpose of having an abortion, and he voted to support the Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on partial-birth abortion. In recent months, the NRLC has been emphasizing that Mr. McCain is opposed to judicial activism and understands the danger it poses to American liberties, as occurred in the Roe case. In a May 6 speech at Wake Forest University, for example, Mr. McCain stated: “Real activists seek to make their case democratically - to win, hearts, minds and majorities to their cause. Such people throughout our history have shown great idealism and done great good. By contrast, activist lawyers and activist judges follow a different method. They want to be spared the inconvenience of campaigns, elections, legislative votes and all of that. They don’t seek to win debates on the merits of their argument, they seek to shut down debates by order of the court.”

The records of Mr. McCain and the party stand firmly on their own.

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