Group claims Fred Thompson lobbied for abortion-rights, Thompson denies

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Fred Thompson

Two days after presidential hopeful Fred Thompson was branded a 'Mole' for warning President Nixon's White House about information the investigating committee had on the Watergate scandal, an abortion-rights group claimed that Thompson lobbied for them in the past. A spokesman for Thompson "flatly denied" the claim.

According to the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, it hired Thompson "to lobby the administration of President George H.W. Bush to ease a regulation that prevented clinics that received federal money from offering any abortion counseling."

Judith DeSarno, the association’s president at the time, provided the LA Times with the group’s board minutes of September 1991. In the documents Thompson was hired to "aid us in discussions with the administration." Ms. DeSarno said in an interview that Mr. Thompson served as the group’s liaison to the White House.

Former Rep. Michael D. Barnes who recommended Thompson for the lobbying job, remarked that Thompson's denial is "absolutely bizarre".

The Los Angeles Times opined that "Thompson's lobbying then would clash directly with the anti-abortion movement he now seeks to rally as a conservative candidate." Thompson has positioned himself as a conservative opponent of abortion rights.

Previously, the Gannett News Service reported that on Thompson’s 1994 campaign questionnaire it 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." While in another questionnaire for his 1994 Senate campaign in Tennessee, "Mr. Thompson or his campaign staff checked a box stating that he believed abortion should be legal under any circumstance during the first three months of a pregnancy." Meanwhile in a televised debate the same year, Mr. Thompson told the moderator that he disagreed with outlawing abortion: "Should the government come in and criminalize let’s say a young girl and her parents and her doctor?" Mr. Thompson said. "I think not."

According to the LA Times, while Thompson "sided with antiabortion advocates on most key issues" as Senator (1994 to January 2003) and publicly criticizes the Roe v Wade decision, the article noted "Some conservatives said the [abortion] lobbying claims added to anxieties" about Thomspon.