Gordon Smith is not, and never has been, pro-choice.

By Michelle Stranger-Hunter of Portland, Oregon. Michelle is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon.

Some recent surveys are showing that a whopping 49 percent of Oregon's pro-choice voters support Senator Gordon Smith. I had to read that twice, there is something seriously wrong with this picture... 49 percent?!?!

While this news is mortifying on many levels, I'm most disturbed by the belief, held by some, that Senator Smith is a moderate, pro-choice senator. This is misinformation at its worst! I feel compelled to dispel these rumors and set the record straight: Senator Gordon Smith is not, and never has been, pro-choice.

With a Senate voting record that dates back to 1997, Senator Smith has voted with his anti-choice allies at least 80 percent of the time... and usually more. In nearly half of his years served, he scored a 0% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Let's take a look at the worst votes Senator Smith took over the years:

He's voted against birth control, but he wants us to consider him moderate? No way.

Any claims of being a “moderate” should be ignored, with respect to his pro-choice views, and in fact, the senator describes himself as “pro-life”: “I tell you, I believe I'm pro-life....”

Clearly, this man is willing to follow in lockstep with the Bush administration's divisive attacks on legal abortion while refusing to support measures that would actually prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion.

So as we head toward the 2008 elections, please forward this info to friends and family and anyone else who may be under the false impression that Smith is a moderate pro-choice senator.

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    Interesting to see the specifics.

    From what I understand, LDS has a fairly reasonable view of abortion rights, compared to many other religions; abortions are heavily discouraged (after all, who would be a fan of abortions?) but the church does not oppose their legalization on principle.

    But the items above lack the "pro family" sensibility that is so central to the Mormon faith. Especially item #2.

    So has Smith been pandering to the "religious right" all this time, rather than following his conscience - as the image he puts forth suggests? Or is he at odds with his church?

  • Nick Robinson (unverified)

    Let's not forget Smith's votes to confirm Alito and Roberts in evaluating his stance on choice.

  • bill Bodden (unverified)

    This article on Mitt Romney comments on the Mormon position on abortions and gives a clue to the path Smith will take in '08.

  • spicey (unverified)

    wow, what an understatement. I've lobbied Congress 5 seperate times over the years. Every time I've visited Smith's office (and once in Portland) I got this - "yeah, we're pro-international family planning" response - which was great, yes. But then the "we're pro-life, too" response. Yikes! Yeah, it would be well for Planned Parenthood and NARAL to get this word out starting right... NOW! There was a cool post on Daily Kos by the way


    which is worth checking out. Thanks for this reminder to get busy on the anti-Smith campaign...

  • JohnH (unverified)

    But will Democrats intent on running a positive campaign bother to inform the public of Smith's position?

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    So that's why NARAL endorsed the incumbent GOP like Chaffee instead of the Dem candidate if/when the Dems have solid majorities they would push anti-choice legislation as opposed to the pro-choice leadership Chaffeee and Specter vote for?

    Remind me to never listen to a damn thing NARAL has to say about being pro-choice when they endorse ANYONE in the GOP in the Senate given that parties record on anti-choice legislation. Reid as Majority leader, while not really pro-choice himself leads a PARTY that is and hence the legislation that is anti-choice never sees the light of day. Specter, Chaffee (now gone thankfully) might be personally "pro-choice" but it doesn't matte because the party whose leadership they elect, and hence the agenda which moves legislation forward, is anti-choice.

    NARAL does not think or act with anything resembling strategic thought or understanding of the larger political landscape.

  • Rick Hake (unverified)

    Gordon Smith votes whichever way the wind is blowing. I refer to him as a windvane politician. Rick Hake Jackson County Chairman Constitution Party of Oregon

  • orcon (unverified)

    You provided no proof of the voting record you claim he has. There are no bill numbers or roll call votes to support your claims.

    Look up the "CEDAW" bill and Smith's attempt to reverse Reagan's "Mexico City Policy" by supporting Barbara Boxer's amendment for international abortion. He has voted for millions to go to abortion all over the world. That is why pro-abortion groups have repeatedly endorsed him.

    The pro-abortion Republicans said "We have a friend in Gordon Smith" way back in 2000. They had good reason.

    From the San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2001/08/02/MN225930.DTL

    "Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon said he would support Boxer's measure despite his opposition to abortion. Smith was one of two Republicans, along with Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, joining all nine Democrats on the committee to back the legislation."

    "With a clear conscience, I vote to allow this money to go forward to allow women to have a choice for their family when it does not involve them in the tragedy of abortion," said Smith.

    The amendment DID allow for abortions. Smith knew it.

    Today he is supporting embryonic stem cell research and calls it "pro-life." If he ever was so-called "pro-life" he no longer is. Saying he is means nothing when his votes have shown the opposite. Which is more important to you? How he truly votes or what he says.

    The pro-life groups have continued to sell him to the conservatives in spite of his voting record while the pro-abortion advocates have gotten what they want. Pretty slick, eh what?

    It is classic Gordon Smith to have it both ways. When in doubt just look at his real voting record. He is the most prolific sponsor of pro-homosexual legislation in the U.S. Senate. Few Democrats have done as much to advance homosexual civil rights.

    But, Republicans who are finally wise to him would love to see him gone. So keep spreading the false stories that will make liberals hate him. Real conservatives will appreciate it.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Smith would not support a ban on the use of land mines which kill innocent people years and decades after they are planted. Based on this we can safely presume that he is also in favor of cluster bombs, the kind that our and the Israeli air forces littered Iraq and southern Lebanon with. There are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of these unexploded horrors waiting to be picked up by children or tripped over by farmers.

    I don't know how orcon came to the conclusion that conservatives would be happy to see Smith go and that "liberals" should embrace him. His voting record shows very few votes against Bush, and when he did vote with the Democrats it was almost always a sure bet it would be a meaningless vote - like his vote to censure A.G. Gonzo today.

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    You're right about the "weathervane" aspect of Smith's statement.

    But get off his back about saying he's "pro life." I'm pro life, I'm sure you're pro life, and so is everybody reading this - with the possible exception of a few seriously depraved individuals.

    The question is whether or not he is in favor of a woman's right to choose the best option for herself, her potential future child, and her family, or whether he thinks the state has the right to dictate that choice to her with a broad brush.

    The only problem with the question of whether or not so-and-so is "pro life" is when otherwise rational people engage in a discussion about it. Everyone is pro life.

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    We're pro-choice, not pro-abortion. There is a huge difference.

  • David Wright (unverified)
    Some recent surveys are showing that a whopping 49 percent of Oregon's pro-choice voters support Senator Gordon Smith. I had to read that twice, there is something seriously wrong with this picture... 49 percent?!?!

    Is it possible... just possible... that some sizeable percentage of Oregon's pro-choice voters do not use this one single issue as an absolute litmus test for their support of a candidate?

    And is it possible that there's nothing seriously wrong with that picture?

    I certainly have supported candidates in the past with whom I did not agree 100% on every issue. And I've not supported candidates with whom I have agreed 100% on one specific issue. The problem is that when electing a representative, you aren't electing them to vote on only one question, you're trying to select someone who will best represent you on a vast range of issues.

    Perhaps that 49% of pro-choice voters (and, I strongly suspect, a great many more who do not support Smith) actually consider more than one topic when deciding whom they should support. Bravo to them!

  • Don Beal (unverified)

    I am sending you post to a Republican friend who is a supporter of Gordon Smith. I'm sure he is not aware of Smiths position on abortion. His willful ignorance that disguises itself as “sage moderation” is infuriating. In time he may see Smith for who he is when the evidence becomes to overwhelming; but then again he is a Christian and is comfortable believing without evidence.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    NARAL has lost all credibility in supporting progressive candidates. Its support of Lieberman and Chafee, who refused to filibuster the Alito and Roberts appointments, has now helped put the Supreme Court in the hands of the far right. These single issue organizations have done harm to the progressive cause, and to their own constituencies. NARAL continues to harbor the delusion that there is such a thing as a "moderate" Republican. That animal became extinct a long tie ago. Organizations like NARAL and the Sierra Club should do likewise.

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    With all due respect "Orcon", if Gordon Smith is pro-choice, then why did he vote to ban so-called "partial-birth" abortions, without an exception to protect a woman's health? Why did he vote to make it a crime to help a teenager obtain an abortion out-of-state? Why did he vote to confirm both of Bush's anti-choice judges?

    Those of you who are criticizing NARAL need to lay off. They endorsed Lincoln Chafee because, at the time, the Democratic Party was actually considering nominating James Langevin, who is 100% anti-choice, as their candidate to run against him.

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    There's a wedge here. Both Mr. Hake and "orcon" display to us the distress that the religious right feel about supporting anyone who doesn't vote in lockstep with their top priority issues. In their world view the issue is nothing less than the sanctioning of murder, so it's not surprising.

    Jenni points out that many voters will look at multiple issues in deciding which politician to support and I join her in applauding that impulse. However, my personal contact with local True Believers on the Right tends to point to the idea that playing up Smith's entire record, will serve to sideline the Constitution Party guys or even better, lead them to run a third party candidate in the '08 general.

    It's all good for the progressives.


    As for NARAL, back in early '90s I did some volunteer time with the escorts, but since then I've come to agree with Lestat and Bill R that NARAL's narrow focus hurts the overall progressive effort.

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    They endorsed Lincoln Chafee because, at the time, the Democratic Party was actually considering nominating James Langevin, who is 100% anti-choice, as their candidate to run against him.

    Which is a good lesson for all of us to learn: Don't endorse until the field is solid.

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    Wise words, Kari.

    Others have said this before, but not in this thread: I would rather have a Senator who can clearly articulates and adheres to views with which I disagree, than a "weathervane," as our Constitution Party friend described Smith (above.)

    The reason for this is simple: there is a huge common interest among nearly all of those concerned about the choice issue.

    To put it simply, we all want to reduce the number of abortions, we all want families to work well. We define the terms and conditions of success differently, but they are not diametrically opposed - far from it. In fact, those of us on the left have a genuine conversation-starter on that that doesn't wear out: abortions were down during the Clinton years. Nobody can refuse to call that a success without compromising their integrity.

    <h2>It is possible to explore the common interests we have with "anti-choicers," so long as both sides speak, act, negotiate, and vote in good faith. From the evidence above (and yes, Michelle, it would be good to have specific citations), it appears that Senator Smith has never operated in good faith on this issue. He's dead weight we cant afford if we hope to move forward; he's a wild card in an issue of life and death.</h2>
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