Controversy: Fred Thompson was once hired as a lobbyist for a pro-abortion group

James Joyner has a definitive recap and link round-up at this LATimes-breaking story about Thompson’s ties to a pro-abortion group under the first President Bush’s administration.

The blogosophere is going wild with this story. Here is a sampling of what’s being said:

Dan Riehl:

Given this story, that Fred Thompson lobbied against the so-called gag rule, a non-pro-life position, in 1991 … let’s look at what was actually going on at the time. In summary, Bush did make a sort of concession by sending a memo to HHS stating that doctors were not to be prevented from counseling patients fully, but could not refer them, basically, to clinics whose primary purpose was abortion. It’s said it was a confusing directive, good thing they didn’t have to read his lips, ay? By the time they claim to have engaged Thompson, it looks like things were already firmed up. But, who knows? Sununu’s records in the Bush library, I suspect. See below. Evidently Sununu was very active on the issue. But I can’t find anything DeSarno would have been pleased with during the relevant time frame.

The American Spectator’s “Washington Prowler” section:

In the story that the L.A. Times will report out within the next 24 to 48 hours, the paper will claim that Thompson was “hired” by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Rights Association, whose director, Judith DeSarno, was acquainted with a then-partner at Arent Fox, former Congressman Michael Barnes. In fact, DeSarno worked as a senior aide to Barnes during his time in Congress. According to Arent Fox insiders, Barnes, who now directs the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and DeSarno are both well-known left-wing activists. Most recently, both were active against the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Thompson was an adviser to Roberts, and served as his Senate “sherpa” during the confirmation process.

Elrod at KnoxViews:

Note to social conservatives: if you want a Southern, proudly evangelical Christian, pro-life conservative Republican, your man is not Fred Thompson. Your man is Mike Huckabee. Hell, Huckabee even has gubornatorial experience. And if Huck isn’t your cup of tea, you’ve got Senator Sam Brownback, no marginal figure in American politics.

Red State:

Meanwhile, Thompson has a 100% pro-life rating while in the Senate and is an “enemy” according to Planned Parenthood.

Captain Ed has several updates on this story, which you should read in full.

Here’s On The Issue’s brief rundown on Fred and the abortion issue:

Roe v. Wade was bad law and bad science. (Jun 2007)
Appoint strict constructionist judges. (Jun 2007)
Has never been pro-choice despite 1994 news reports. (Jun 2007)
Voted YES on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions. (Jun 2000)
Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions. (Oct 1999)
Voted YES on banning human cloning. (Feb 1998)

So long as the guy is listed as an “enemy” of Planned Parenthood and has a 100% pro-life rating, I’m down with that. Fred’s position on abortion seems to be similar to mine. Mine is that abortion shouldn’t be outlawed right now – that we need to change hearts and minds on the issue first (and I think we are), and then outlawing it later when enough of those hearts and minds are changed. His – via the NYT link from Joyner’s post:

In addition, the Gannett News Service has reported that another questionnaire submitted during Mr. Thompson’s 1994 campaign contained a handwritten note that stated: “I do not believe abortion should be criminalized. This battle will be won in the hearts and souls of the American people.”

I honestly don’t know what to make of the LAT story. It’s obviously a hit piece, but at James’ post points out, there’s too much detail in there for Fred to be able to credibly deny that he did this work.

Stay tuned …

BTW, chalk me up as someone who is right now lukewarm to Fred Thompson – frankly none of the ‘top tier’ candidates are really inspiring me at the moment.

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