Gary Johnson Grassroots Blog

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Abortion Litmus Test Seeks to Divide GOP Primary

How should a president go about choosing the most qualified people to serve in critical Cabinet or Executive Branch positions?

One would hope the President would pick the most qualified position for the job. Unfortunately, several GOP candidates have pledged a different litmus test to weed out their initial choices: they must be pro-life (or what some might call “anti-choice”). (2012 GOP Candidates Sign Susan B. Anthony List Pro-Life Pledge)

The head of the Department of Justice is one of the appointments mentioned in the pledge. The head of the DOJ is the Attorney General of the United States. According to the DOJ's own website, it’s mission is as follows:
To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans." - DOJ Mission Statement
Abortion is currently legal in the United States, and the U.S. Constitution does not give the Attorney General any power whatsoever to change laws. So why the litmus test? Yes, it’s true that abortion is hardly a celebrated procedure, but polls show that most Americans prefer for it to remain legal rather than banning it and forcing the abortion industry underground. (Poll: Americans Ambivalent on Abortion) Regardless, the days of applying such single-issue litmus-tests ought to be behind us by now. I mean, isn’t the country already divided enough over politics?

Signers of the Susan B. Anthony List Pro-Life Pledge include Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum. This pledge may help these candidates succeed in increasing their appeal to social conservatives, but taking a pledge such as this will seriously hurt their chances if they move on to the general election at a time when voters want to focus on the economy and not social issues.

Candidates who did not sign the litmus test pledge were Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Gary Johnson. Of these, only Johnson supports a woman’s right to choose. Fortunately for Johnson, more Republicans are pro-choice than the media seems to realize. Johnson’s moderate position on abortion -- opposing taxpayer funding, supporting parental notification, and having signed a ban on late-term abortions as Governor of New Mexico -- may make him an attractive choice not only to pro-choice Republicans and independents, but to pro-life voters who have decided that this should no longer be considered a litmus test issue.

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