Kathryn Lopez

In recent weeks, Sen. John McCain, who has the longest pro-life record of any Republican running for president, has talked about abortion in terms of human rights. Mitt Romney has talked about the suffering of women who have abortions, noting that some women feel like they have no choice. Fred Thompson recalled seeing the sonogram of his daughter and reflected, "My heart now is fully engaged with my head."

Meanwhile, Giuliani -- whatever assurance he may give on specific pledges -- is pro-choice. Even if he vows to keep restrictions that are already in place, he has definite limits and will not champion life. Not the way Reagan did. Reagan, comparing the fight over abortion to slavery, said in 1984: "I believe no challenge is more important to the character of America than restoring the right to life to all human beings. Without that right, no other rights have meaning."

And so the question pro-life Republicans are wrestling with right now is: If we win with Giuliani, is that too much of a compromise on life? Or worse yet: What if Giuliani's the nominee and the GOP loses anyway? The party would have compromised on life and lost anyway.

According to exit polls, George W. Bush took 80 percent of voters who cast their vote based on "moral values." What will it say about the GOP if the party abdicates leadership on life issues? That's the question many Republicans are going to continue to ask themselves as this election season gets even more furiously in gear. That, and the practical electoral question that follows: How will voters react? The guy who wins the hearts of pro-life activists may just be the one who makes his position as crystal clear as Bush did with that letter in May.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.