Are Republicans bidding farewell to pro-life supporters?

If they are, then many Catholics will be bidding farewell to the Republican Party.

More Catholics voted for Republicans in the last election than ever before — and they did it even despite Catholic voters' opposition to the Iraq war. Abortion was the biggest reason why.

A Gallup Poll conducted just before the November elections found that 19% of likely voters say the abortion issue directs which candidates they are willing to support. A big majority of those voters chose President Bush — so much so that Gallup said it gave the president a 7% advantage among all voters, and the presidency.

In the Democratic Party's platform, conventions and party leadership, any opposition to abortion is strictly forbidden. Pro-lifers have largely given up on them, and hoped the Republican Party's official pro-life stance would make it a more natural home for them.

But the GOP is starting to look less like home.

When Democrats controlled the Senate, President Clinton's judicial appointees sailed through despite their out-of-the-mainstream support for abortion. With little objection from the GOP, America got Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the federal judges who routinely overturn the pro-life measures states manage to enact.

But with Republicans in charge, Democrats wouldn't allow the most reliably pro-life appointees to even get a vote — and Republicans were too afraid to give them the vote the constitution guarantees them. Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler wrote to U.S. senators Jan. 6, urging them to resist pressure to impose a pro-abortion litmus test on federal judicial nominees. Cardinal Keeler, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, objected to the judiciary's virtual “Catholics need not apply” policy. To no avail.

America's pro-life majority elected a Republican president and Republican Senate. Will these people be able to successfully seat a pro-life Supreme Court justice for us in return? That remains to be seen. But the GOP doesn't seem as willing to fight as hard for pro-lifers as pro-lifers fought for them.

Look at what happened in the House.

The Republican-controlled body voted to spend money from American taxpayers' paychecks to pay for unethical research that isn't promising enough to attract private investors. Embryonic stem-cell research has been hyped as cure-all miracle research. But a review of the facts reveals it for what it is: the creation of human beings for the sake of science experiments that have so far produced only tumors in patients.

Adult stem-cell research, on the other hand, has produced amazing treatments for medical conditions. But no one is asking for taxpayer money to spend on it. Pharmaceutical companies are more than happy to invest in it themselves, because it works.

Formerly pro-life members of Congress are using pro-abortion arguments to explain their betrayal. They say these children are unwanted anyway, or that they aren't fully human — even after being visited on Capitol Hill by “unwanted” embryos slated for death who were adopted, allowed to grow up, and now walk, talk, play and, some day, will vote.

If pro-lifers are starting to feel out of place in the Republican Party, the feeling might grow in 2008.

The party's dream candidates for President — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar — are not pro-life.

Some party watchers say not to lose hope.

“I don't think there is anything happening in the party per se on this issue. We are a pro-life party and will remain so,” Republican campaign strategist Bill Dal Col, who managed Steve Forbes' 2000 presidential campaign, told the Washington Times.

The answer, says Steve Ertelt of Lifesite, is for pro-life advocates to work overtime to make sure the party knows what pro-lifers expect.

There is a long list of possible pro-life Republican presidential candidates, he said, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; pro-life Senators Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska; and former Virginia Governor George Allen.

A pro-abortion Republican can't win the next presidential election. The religious supporters that the GOP counts on won't vote for the opponent, certainly — they simply won't vote at all.

As Americans, our House and Senate leaders should support pro-life positions because if they vote the wrong way, they'll end human beings' lives.

As politicians, they should support pro-life positions because, if they vote the wrong way, they'll end their political careers.