Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek thinks I might be “star struck” by Newt Gingrich. She quoted from my Sunday post here on CatholicVote.org, which I will reprint here:
I am very glad that the Gingrich campaign was quick to respond to the fallout from the ABC News interview and that they came out with a strong pro-life statement which reaffirms the scientific fact that life begins at conception.
To which, Stanek replied:
Really? A personal note is all it takes to move past Newt Gingrich’s unequivocal statement to ABC’s Jake Tapper on December 2, that “when a woman has [a] fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life”?
I’ll tell you something. The Gingrich campaign contacted me directly, too, sending me the same statement it sent CatholicVote.org and also contacting me via Twitter.
But Gingrich can’t say one day that life begins at implantation and the next that life begins at conception and get away with it.
Well it wasn’t just a personal note from them to me. They posted it online at Newt.org. And as Stanek admits, they sent it to her, too. So they certainly sent that press release out to other news outlets as well.
Now Stanek could have said that I was too forgiving of his statement and that I also should have demanded that he specifically repudiate the remarks he made to ABC. After all, one could (strangely enough) believe in the scientific fact that life begins at conception and still favor research on those embroys frozen in fertility clinics. (There are days I just hate our Brave New World.)
So I will agree with Stanek. Let’s not just give him a free pass.
We should demand that Gingrich specifically repudiate any and all testing on embryonic life, including those found in fertility clinics.
After all, as Stanek notes, Gingrich has previously supported research on embryonic children who have not been implanted in a womb. He told Fox News back in 2001:
My hope is that [President Bush] will draw a sharp distinction between research on fetuses, which I think would be abhorrent and anti-human, and research on cells that are in fertility clinics that have never been in anyone’s body, in terms of being — becoming a person, and which, frankly, are currently unregulated and will disappear. And I think that’s a different kind of question. These are not prehuman cells in the sense they’re going to be implanted. . . . I have a 100 percent pro-life voting record, but I’ve always drawn a distinction at implantation. And I think there’s a real difference in the two kinds of cells. I notice that former senator Connie Mack, who is himself is a Catholic, takes the same position. And I think people who’ve looked at this issue can honorably disagree. But for many of us, there’s a very, very real distinction between doing something with an unborn child, a fetus that is implanted, and doing something with cells in a fertility clinic that are otherwise going to be destroyed.
So his interview with ABC News was not an aberration. It was, in fact, his own view from 2001 to 2006. Perhaps Catholics had hoped that his conversion to the Catholic Church in 2009 meant he would affirm the Church’s teaching condemning this unethical research. His comments on ABC cast that into doubt. His statement on Saturday helped, but I agree with Stanek that Gingrich needs to address this more adequately.
But I do want to clarify one thing. I am certainly not star struck by the Gingrich campaign contacting me via Twitter. And no, I’m not upset at what Stanek wrote. I know that her number one concern is the issues. (Me too.)
And I honestly can’t expect Stanek to know all of what I’ve written on this site.
I am willing to admit that I was proably too cautious about being perceived as anti-Newt over this dustup precisely because I so strongly discouraged Catholics from supporting Newt Gingrich’s candidacy just as his poll numbers were starting to rise. So maybe I gave Newt too much of a pass on Sunday. But not because I was star struck.
Newt had delivered some commanding performances at the debates and I know that members of CatholicVote.org overwhelming supported Newt Gingrich in the Thanksgiving Straw Poll, but not me. I continue to have “deep reservations of him becoming the standard bearer of the Republican Party.”