Anti-abortion group withholds endorsement of Lt. Gov. candidates

Thursday, September 25, 2008 | 10:02 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — When Missouri Right To Life, an anti-abortion rights organization, publishes its endorsements for statewide offices next week, neither the Republican nor Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor will be on that list, a group spokesperson said Wednesday.

Pam Fichter, Missouri Right To Life board president, explained the group's political action committee will not endorse Republican incumbent Peter Kinder as it did in 2004, nor will it back state Rep. Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur.

Although Kinder has not voted on any abortion-related issues since his election as lieutenant governor in 2004, Fichter cited the "strong public perception" that he opposed the 2005 measure that would have banned some forms of stem-cell research. Senate Bill 160, which split anti-abortion lawmakers, died in the Senate that year without a vote.

Fichter also noted Right To Life's "assumption" that Kinder supported Constitutional Amendment Two, a measure approved in 2006 that the Missouri Secretary of State's office said would "prohibit state or local governments from preventing or discouraging lawful stem cell research, therapies and cures."

"Cloning and embryonic stem cells are a crucial part to the life issue," Fichter said, explaining that Right To Life opposes any measure aimed at "creating life for the sole purpose of destroying it."

She added:  "Kinder also did very good things. He was instrumental in getting the partial birth abortion ban passed in Missouri, and we're happy to see he is moving in the right direction in the cloning issue."

The lieutenant governor's campaign spokesperson said, "Peter Kinder has always been a pro-life candidate and opposes embryonic stem cell research."

While Fichter said Right To Life and Kinder share some of the same viewpoints, she said Page has been rated as "anti-life" by the organization.

Page has voted against some of the major proposals in Missouri's legislature in recent years to restrict abortion rights.

He stated in a news release last week that he supports stem cell research, and, if elected, he would push for medical advances that would make blood from umbilical cords easier to use in research, thus eliminating the need for embryonic cells.

"My stand is a principled one," Page said.  "I can't oppose research that gives hope to children with diabetes, young people who injure their spines, nor the families with parents and grandparents suffering from Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.  I am not taking that hope away from them.
"And that's my position, wherever I am."

The anesthesiologist from Creve Coeur has received a public endorsement from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, NARAL, an abortion rights advocacy organization, according to Pamela Sumners, the group's executive director in Missouri.

"(Page) has an excellent voting record on all of the issues that are of concern to our organization and for broader issues," Sumners said. "The man is a physician and imminently skilled, and he would bring some real experience to the position."


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