Tolbert: Cotton Stands For Life While Pryor Ducks For Cover

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 150 views 

The Senate race between Sen. Mark Pryor and Cong. Tom Cotton is certainly heating up.  We will hear a sharp contrast between the two candidates on many issues.

Today, the two candidates” stances on the issue of the protection of the unborn is quite the contrast – not only on policy, but on their willingness to clearly state where they stand.

Cotton made his position clear today in Little Rock as he stood on the steps of the state capitol at the annual March for Life.   The purpose of the march is to “honor and celebrate the intrinsic value of every human life,” according to Rose Mimms, executive director of Arkansas Right to Life, which sponsors the march and the rally that follows.

“Like all people, unborn children are entitled to the God-given right to life and liberty enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed in our Constitution,” Cotton told the crowd. “And I’m working in Congress to defend the sanctity of human life and to preserve and protect the rights of all children, born and unborn. I’ve sponsored legislation that would stop taxpayer dollars from going to organizations that perform abortions. I’ve also supported a bill that would declare that life begins at conception and, as we continue in our efforts to protect the unborn, a bill that stops abortions after the fetus is capable of feeling pain. And I continue to oppose Obamacare and its regulations, with its unconstitutional mandates that private organizations, including churches, pay for abortion.”

It is crystal clear where Cotton stands – he is pro-life.  Contrast this with Pryor who is ducking for cover on this subject.

Betsy Woodruff with the National Review caught up with Sen. Pryor this week and tried to pin him down on where he stood on an upcoming vote on Senate legislation sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham – the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  This bill is a federal bill similar to the late-term abortion ban passed in Arkansas in 2013 that prohibits all abortions after the point in which the baby can experience pain (20 weeks). Woodruff describes her experience

I saw the Senator on Monday night shortly before the 5:30 p.m. vote to confirm Robert Wilkins to be a circuit judge for Washington, D.C. He was passing through the Ohio Clock room off the Senate chamber, so I caught up with him to ask about Senator Lindsey Graham’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks except in cases of rape, “incest against a minor,” or the endangerment of the mother’s life. When The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack asked Pryor about the legislation last August, he said, “I’ll have to look at it. I haven’t focused on it.”

Fair answer. It’s been four months since then, so one would think Pryor would have had a chance to give it a look by now.

So on Monday evening, I skittered across the Ohio Clock room to ask the senator if he’d had any more thoughts on the bill. He looked at me, sort of smiled, said nothing, and kept walking. I walked after him for a bit, giving him time to answer. He didn’t acknowledge me at all beyond his smirk-ish facial expression, and certainly didn’t provide any insight into his views on late-term abortion. He did say “Hi guys” to a few men standing in the hall between the Senate chamber and the rotunda. Then, munching peanut-butter M&Ms, he disappeared toward the House side of the building.

A request for comment sent to his office was unanswered at press time.

The Tolbert Report also submitted a request for comment to both Pryor”s Senate office and his campaign on this legislation, as well as a request for Pryor to clarify where he stands on the issue of abortion.  My request has also gone unanswered.

Again by contrast, a similar request to Cotton”s campaign was answered almost immediately.

“Tom Cotton voted for and was a proud co-sponsor of the Pain Capable legislation that protects life in the U.S. House of Representatives. Arkansans deserve a Senator who reflects their values, and Tom Cotton will do that in the U.S. Senate,” said campaign spokesman David Ray.

As Woodruff points out, this week is just a continuation of Pryor”s tightrope walk on the issue of abortion…

Pryor’s past comments on the abortion issue have been across the board. During a bid to be attorney general in 1998, he said he was pro-choice for an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette candidate survey. In 2002, the same paper reported that Pryor said, “I have never considered myself ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life.’ . . . I believe that abortion is always wrong, with the possible exception of when the mother’s life is in danger.” 

And in 2013, he told a local outlet that he’s “always leaned toward the pro-life side.” He added: “I sort of live in that tension of somewhere being in the middle of that issue, probably where most Arkansans are. I think for most Arkansans it’s not a pure black or white issue. There’s not just a bright-line rule, no exceptions.”

According to the National Right to Life, Pryor has a pro-life rating of 35% based on legislation they track.  Cotton has a 100% pro-life rating by the same group.

Regardless of where you stand on the right to life issue,  Arkansans deserve to know where their candidates stand.  Cotton is clear that he is pro-life.  Pryor? Who knows??