With Governor Mike Huckabee deciding against running for the Republican nomination to face pro-abortion President Barack Obama, scores of pro-life conservatives are looking for a new candidate to support -- especially in early election states like Iowa and South Carolina. Although most of the potential Republican candidates hold pro-life views, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has a solid pro-life record Huckabee supporters should consider.
Like Huckabee, Pawlenty is a conservative former governor who won consecutive terms in a state that isn't a lock for Republicans. As a fellow evangelical who takes his faith serious, Pawlenty is consistently pro-life and has a strong record combining signing pro-life bills and rejecting anti-life ones with a close relationship with pro-life leaders and a good track record on judges.
During his first year as governor in 2003, Pawlenty signed into law the Woman’s Right to Know Act, giving women information about abortion risks and alternatives as well as information on fetal development. The legislation included giving women information about the pain their babies feel during an abortion -- something that is becoming a basis for other states like Nebraska that are enacting new bills to ban abortions after 20 weeks because of their consideration for unborn children. Pawlenty, in 2005, also signed a bill called the Unborn Child Pain Prevention Act in 2005 to give women even more information on the pain their babies feel during an abortion -- hoping to help convince them to seek alternatives.
In 2005, Pawlenty also signed the Positive Alternatives to Abortion Act to make Minnesota one of just a handful of states that send public funds to pregnancy centers providing tangible support for pregnant women and abortion alternatives. Since then, it has helped more than 18,000 pregnant women and their families who may have otherwise decided on an abortion.
Governor Pawlenty’s pro-life record includes everything from promoting perinatal hospices as alternatives to abortion in cases when a baby is diagnosed with a severe medical condition, to declaring pro-life days recognizing the tragedy of Roe v. Wade, to speaking at rallies and events for key pro-life groups like Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. He also signed a proclamation designating the month of April as “Abortion Recovery Month” to acknowledge how millions of women have significant regrets about their abortion decision and wish they could go back and undo it.
The governor also submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood
of Northern New England. He supported the New Hampshire law at issue requiring parental
notification before abortions can be done on minors.
Pawlenty also impressed pro-life advocates with his strong stand on bioethics issues like human cloning and stem cell research. He vetoed a cloning bill that would have legalized human cloning and forced taxpayers to pay for the destruction of human life, saying destroying human embryos crossed “core ethical and moral boundaries.” The governor also signed into law a ban on taxpayer funding of human cloning and he has consistently said he prefers adult stem cell research, which has helped patients, over the embryonic variety -- which Pawlenty condemns because it destroys human life.
For pro-life voters, the biggest issue in the 2012 elections is judges -- especially given the way in which Obama has stacked the courts with abortion advocates and installed two pro-abortion stalwarts on the Supreme Court in Elana Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. In 2008, Governor Pawlenty appointed a pro-life advocate to lead the Minnesota Supreme Court. Eric Magnuson, who was named chief justice, had written an amicus brief for a pro-life group in a case arguing that taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortions with their tax money.
Governor Pawlenty also felt so strongly about appointing Jamie Anderson to the 4th Judicial District Court that he bypassed the state’s Commission on Judicial Selection to ensure the respected pro-life attorney had a seat.
Pawlenty seems to have an understanding of judges that moves beyond the typical responses of wanting strict constructionists. With the way in which conservatives have gotten burned on past Supreme Court nominees, Pawlenty has explained how he wants judges who have a decision and opinion record showing an understanding of the rule of law and that eliminates the guesswork of how they would likely rule in the future. His desire is to appoint potential justices with the kind of confidence that makes it unlikely the appointment will come back to haunt conservatives on pro-life and other key political issues.
Pawlenty's track record has won him accolades from pro-life advocates, with Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser saying “The governor’s actions on behalf of Minnesota women and unborn
children are exemplary" and Scott Fischbach of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life adding, “Under the leadership of Gov. Pawlenty, Minnesota now has the lowest teen abortion rate ever, and the lowest number of abortions performed since 1975. I know first-hand the lives that Tim Pawlenty saved as my governor."
Ultimately, the Pawlenty pro-life track record has produced proven results: The Minnesota health department indicated last year that Minnesota abortions have dropped 14 percent and hit a 35-year low.
On judges, abortion, bioethics issues and showing care and concern for women struggling with or recovering from an abortion decision, Governor Pawlenty has been thoroughly and consistently pro-life. Like Huckabee, Pawlenty solidly rejected the notion of a truce on abortion and social issues and pro-life voters can rest assured they will have a friend in the White House for four years or beyond should they give Governor Pawlenty their support.