In an open letter to the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List a day after a disastrous interview on Fox News Sunday regarding his pro-life views, Governor Scott Walker attempted to stem growing unease about his seeming inability to articulate a consistently convincing position.
He chose the most visible and powerful symbol of pro-life legislation currently possible: a law that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, when it’s possible for a child to feel pain. A 20-week bill is currently making its way through the Wisconsin legislature, similar to those championed tirelessly in Wisconsin and thirteen other states by SBA List.
His statement was simple and unambiguous: “I will sign that bill when it gets to my desk and support similar legislation on the federal level.”
Good for you, Governor.
Austin Ruse, writing at Brietbart.com, noted:
Frank Cannon, president of the American Principles Project, engineered the public complaints about Walker’s performance on the Chris Wallace show. He tells Breitbart News, “When you call on someone to do something and they respond all you can say is well done. Well done, Governor Walker.”
Marjorie Danenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which support pro-life women in politics, said, “Governor Walker is making his pro-life convictions concrete in his presidential platform.” She adds:
His commitment to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in Wisconsin and nationally is the best first step for a pro-life candidate and one that is embraced by the nation. This popular legislation has been endorsed by almost every Republican hopeful for 2016.
In this very political moment, Walker’s actions reveal an executive comfortable on the political battlefield. He made a misstep. He weighed the consequences. He righted his wrong. He spoke openly and on the record. Let’s move on.
But at some point Scott Walker will have to say why he is pro-life, not only that he has supported or signed pro-life legislation. This is ultimately what voters, especially Evangelical primary voters, want to know.
Terry Schilling, executive director at American Principles in Action, plumbs the depth of pro-life conviction in his post on The Pulse 2016:
My advice to candidates running for office? Stake out the positions that you truly hold, advance them where you can, and publicly defend your position.
If you think that abortion ends the life of an innocent unborn child (and are on the record as saying such), don’t brag about supporting measures that “ultimately keep [abortion] between a woman and her doctor.” This reeks of hypocrisy and cowardice, and it’s exactly why people don’t trust or like politicians.
Instead, explain the America that you’d like to see. Explain what you would do as President. Explain what the right thing to do would be and why. Explain why your opponent is wrong. Put them on defense by playing offense.
Schilling’s points are music to Evangelical ears that long to hear the “Why?” of a candidate’s position. They inherently understand that being pro-life is ultimately more than about being against the tragedy of abortion. While abortion is certainly the flashpoint, what one understands about the intrinsic value and inestimable worth and dignity of a person outside of subjective considerations like age, physical ability, infirmity or social status, will invariably shape how they will react in the political arena to policy issues involving healthcare and economics and taxes and defense policy.
Properly understood, a full-spectrum conservative should have a full-spectrum understanding of life. Because looming just beyond the horizon of the abortion debate are equally daunting policy debates over end-of-life issues, eldercare, the developmentally disabled, assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Governor Walker, your record suggests you support pro-life legislation. But more important to us is why.
Clint Cline is the president of Design4, a messaging and media firm with offices in Florida and Washington, D.C.