Real Leadership

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) - Pro-life Democrat now famous for caving in to pro-choice ObamaCare

By: Brian Sikma

Mike Fichter, the executive director of Indiana Right to Life, and the chairman of the IRTL PAC, has made news lately with his PAC’s decision to adopt a no-Democrat endorsement policy. The board of the PAC voted to end the organization’s practice of endorsing Democrat as well as Republican candidates that are pro-life. The American Spectator ran a lengthy editorial highlighting the PAC’s decision and how it relates to the overall debate unfolding in the pro-life community after Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) flip-flop on ObamaCare.

The Right to Life organizations that form a key part of the broader pro-life movement have, on the whole, worked to stay non-partisan in their approach to politics. Because the pro-life movement rightfully transcends political parties, it has been difficult in recent years for some in the movement to see the need to become more hard-line in their political activities. Although fewer in number, pro-life Democrats have been an important part of state and federal legislative strategies since the pro-life battle began in 1973. Pro-life Republicans often provide the majority of the votes needed to deliver on a pro-life bill or amendment, but even when they are the majority party, the handful of pro-life Democrat votes that are in a chamber can mean the difference between victory and defeat.  

Since the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, and as control of the Indiana House of Representatives has shifted back and forth over several cycles, it has become increasingly apparent that when Democrats are in the majority, the value of the pro-life members of their party decreases. Because the rank-and-file pro-life Democrats often vote for liberal caucus leadership, or get out voted if they do choose to vote their conscience in leadership elections, an increase of Democrats in any legislative body, even if they are pro-life, spells doom for pro-life legislation.

In adopting a no-Democrat endorsement policy, IRTL PAC has really done the only thing it could have done to maintain a forward-thinking, smart political strategy to advance its values and principles. While it is unfortunate that Democrats, once in power, cannot be relied upon to even bring some pro-life measures up for a vote, let alone pass such legislation, that stark political reality should be acknowledged by pro-life leaders across the country. The Democrat party of today is even more liberal than it was when the pro-life movement began, and its heavy-handed tactics which are evident at both the state and national level justify a complete rejection of the party by a movement defined by principle and not party affiliation.


In November the three Republican state Senate candidates in District 17 completed questionnaires from the Allen County Right to Life seeking information about their individual positions on a number of critical pro-life issues. The questions asked were straightforward and two of the candidates did a solid job of providing clear answers. Reviewing the final essay question, however, one would probably have to conclude that Jim Banks, an experienced pro-family and pro-life advocate with national experience, provided the most thorough and persuasive explanation of his pro-life philosophy.*

Candidate Tom Wall, currently a Huntington County Commissioner, checked “unsure” in responding to two of the questions on his questionnaire. Each of the questions he marked this way were very simple questions dealing with two common pro-life issues faced by legislators around the country. Anyone familiar with the cursory elements of the pro-life position and philosophy would have been able to make a final judgment about his or her support of the position stated in the question.

The first area of uncertainty for Wall was the matter of conscience clause legislation that protects pharmacists from being legally liable for refusing to fill out prescriptions for abortion inducing products. This issue has come up in several states, including neighboring Illinois, and pharmacists have had to face a choice between violating their conscience and assuming serious liability for their refusal to comply with a consumer’s request. In Indiana legislation has been introduced in recent sessions of the General Assembly to protect pro-life Hoosier pharmacists from this morally and professionally difficult choice.

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