The congressmen were part of a panel discussion on the future of the pro-life movement at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), held in Washington, D.C.
A group of US Congressmen met at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week to discuss "the future of the pro-life movement" and McCain. Pro-lifers are concerned that McCain may not uphold their stance against abortion and protecting the rights of the unborn. They see in McCain as a possible threat to the movement.
According to Pete Winn, a senior staff writer for CNSNews.com, these conservative leaders are "taking a show me' attitude" toward Sen. John McCain. In other words, as Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) expounds, "McCain is going to have to prove himself to the pro-life community".
Problematic is their perception of McCain's level of commitment for the cause. His voting record shows him as pro-life oriented, but is it "in his heart"? Franks said if McCain can show his commitment, his deep down, heart-felt commitment to this issue, "we would walk through glass to help him get elected."
One issue is McCain's support of expanding "taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. McCain has also supported abortion in certain cases such as rape, incest or potential death of the mother. Also at issue is McCain's attack of George Bush when he was governor of Texas because he supported the pro-life plank which did not include the abortion exceptions.
As we continue through primary season, and McCain continues his campaign, it will be interesting to see if he can bring the pro-life conservatives under his umbrella. For them, it is not an issue that is debatable. It is a core value and one they must support to maintain their own integrity. McCain has shown himself pro-live, but will he fully support the passing of legislation to "protect the unborn", or will he seat Supreme Court justices who may go in a different direction?
This is what the conservative base wants to know: will he or won't he? As a left leaning conservative, will he uphold the values of conservatism or will he surrender to pressure from the left? Pro-life conservatives want to know what kind of justices he will seat and whether they can trust him if they put their hopes on him as the Republican Presidential candidate.
Conservative Republicans want assurances that McCain will seat judicial nominees that "would be originalists when it comes to the Constitution." They want assurances that he will "support the pro-life plank in the Republican national Platform." They want to know he will fight for the human life amendment and push for "extending 14th Amendment rights to the unborn."
What they want is a public commitment from McCain about these issues. Conservative concern is rampant now that McCain is the front-runner for the race, and it would be in McCain's best interests to breach the chasm yawning between truly conservative Republicans and those who have moved toward the left. He needs the solid support of all to win the Presidential race, and I hope, should he win the nomination, and he will continue to uphold traditional values for all.
Should McCain make a public declaration about his intent in regards to the pro-life plank and his appointments for the judiciary, I think the pro-life conservatives will line up behind him. I hope once they are behind him though, that they will keep him from slipping backwards in the interests of "coming together" with Democrats. I hope they (we) will hold him to his promises and keep his feet to the fire if he reneges on his pre-election statements.
We will have to wait to see if McCain will attempt a public reconciliation with the pro-life conservatives, but many of us will be watching, and listening, anxiously.