The Blog

National Right to Life Committee Blasts Fred Upton's Record on Abortion

Leading pro-life group points out Upton has voted to keep taxpayer-money flowing to Planned Parenthood.

12:15 PM, Nov 19, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Republican congressman Fred Upton of Michigan is angling for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and in so doing has taken to calling himself a "pro-lifer." But Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee writes in a letter to the House Republican Steering Committee that "regrettably, this self-characterization in many respects cannot be squared with the record."

National Right to Life Committee Blasts Fred Upton's Record on Abortion

"There is no committee of the House of Representatives that has policy and oversight jurisdiction over as many areas of concern to the pro-life movement as the House Committee on Energy and Commerce," writes Johnson, who points out that "When the 112th Congress convenes, Mr. Upton’s career score (62%), on NRLC- scored floor votes, will be the sixth lowest of any member of the Republican Conference. Of even greater significance is the fact that most of the pro-life issues on which Mr. Upton has taken the wrong position are issues that fall squarely within the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee." The NRLC is backing Pennsylvania's Joe Pitts for the top spot on the sub-committee on health.

In particular, Johnson points out that Upton voted not once but twice against Congressman Mike Pence's amendment to cut off taxpayer-money to Planned Parenthood, an organization performed 324,008 abortions in 2008. Johnson notes that Upton has voted to deny direct funding of abortion, but not money that is ostensibly used to pay for contraception.

Johnson goes on to highlight Upton's votes for cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, and the abortion drug RU-486. Johnson also points out Upton's record on the unborn victims' of violence act:

During the Administration of President George W. Bush, one of the major pro-life debates in Congress was over this question: If, during commission of a violent federal crime, a criminal attacks a pregnant woman and kills her unborn child, does that crime have one victim, or two? Polls showed that about 80% of the public said “two victims,” but Mr. Upton’s answer was “one victim” – he twice voted for the Lofgren Substitute, which would have codified the doctrine that such a crime has only one victim 

See Johnson's full letter here: 

To the Honorable Members of the House Republican Steering Committee:

There is no committee of the House of Representatives that has policy and oversight jurisdiction over as many areas of concern to the pro-life movement as the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. These include major federal health programs (most of which involve abortion policy issues), regulation of biomedical research (including research involving human embryos), and regulation of drugs (including abortion-inducing drugs), to name just a few. Most of these matters fall within the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Health.

The chairmen of the full committee and of the Health Subcommittee will manage numerous pieces of legislation that implicate pro-life priorities. They will also wield broad oversight authority and command very formidable staff resources. It is, therefore, critical that the leadership of this committee reflect the commitment to pro-life policies that are held by the great majority of the Republican Conference, including nearly all of the incoming Republican freshmen.

It has been widely reported that Congressman Fred Upton is the frontrunner for the full committee chairmanship. This prospect raises the gravest concerns from the pro-life perspective. Mr. Upton recently said, “I’ve always considered myself pro-life.” (Hugh Hewitt interview, November 9, 2010). But, regrettably, this self-characterization in many respects cannot be squared with the record. It is serious distortion to characterize Mr. Upton’s overall voting record, and his underlying policy positions, as “pro-life.”

When the 112th Congress convenes, Mr. Upton’s career score (62%), on NRLC- scored floor votes, will be the sixth lowest of any member of the Republican Conference. Of even greater significance is the fact that most of the pro-life issues on which Mr. Upton has taken the wrong position are issues that fall squarely within the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Space does not allow us here to provide a comprehensive summary of those issues and votes, because Mr. Upton has voted against the NRLC position on 61 roll call votes on the House floor, a total exceeded by only two other House Republicans. What follows is for purposes of illustration, but is far from exhaustive.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers