Michael Wickline takes a look today at the developing State Senate races in his article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. There are not a whole lot of new names that you haven’t already seen on our Talk Business list. The most notable was Miller County Sheriff Ron Stovall who may run against Sen. Steve Harrelson in the Democratic primary in the Texarkana area.
But I also noted Rep. Linda Tyler’s dance on her abortion position in response to the charge from her potential 2012 Senate opponent, Sen. Jason Rapert, that she used her position as chair of the House Public Health Committee to kill pro-life legislation. So many pro-life bills were killed in the committee – which was made up of 15 Democrats and 5 Republicans – that it become known as the "death panel." From the article…
Rapert said Tyler was chairman of a House committee in which several antiabortion bills failed to clear earlier this year.
“From where I stand, she definitely needs to know that she is not just killing bills. The pro-life bills are dealing with the lives of children in our nation,” he said.
In response, Tyler said, “All you have to do is to look at my record to see I’m not a puppet for Barack Obama or Mike Beebe.”
She said that as a committee chairman she didn’t vote on the bills in the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee. She noted that in 2009 she voted for legislation to ban partial-birth abortions.
This response is quite a change from the quote she gave the Arkansas Times at the end of last year’s session.
Tyler, D-Conway, chaired a Public Health Committee that heard 11 bills on abortion, from a measure aimed at prohibiting the procedure after 20 weeks to a proposal to impose stricter standards on the state’s only clinic that provides surgical abortions. Only one, a bill that would require a clinic that performed over 10 procedures in a year to be regulated by the state Health Department, was approved.
Although Tyler says she feels strongly about the issue, she credits the committee for asking tough questions and not shying away from a controversial debate.
“I wish it was such that women would not make those decisions,” Tyler says. “But I believe that a woman has the right to make that decision and it’s between a woman, her doctor, her family and her God and it should not be something that government should be involved in.”
Tyler’s position is clearly pro-choice, however, now that it is an election year it appears she is shying away from positions she knows are not consistent with her district. It is true that many times as chair she chose to pass voting on bills when it was obvious that the pro-life measure would fail anyway. But whenever it came down to her vote to pass the bill, pro-life groups could not count on her.
Also, it is common for pro-choice politicians to point toward their vote for banning partial birth abortion to try to pacify pro-life voters, but this is a smoke screen. Only the most extreme of the pro-choice crowd are in favor of partial birth abortions. The measure to ban partial birth abortions passed with 84 votes in a Democratic-dominated legislature in 2009, but even then her support was marginal – she did not co-sponsor the bill and I don’t recall her speak in favor of bill during the debate which I followed closely.
I suppose Tyler’s pro-choice dance is to be expected during a campaign, but don’t be fooled – she is the pro-choice candidate and Sen. Rapert is the pro-life candidate in this race.