Bob Dole’s selection of Jack Kemp as his Vice Presidential running mate took many by surprise. Kemp, who has been on the political scene for years, is still seen as an unknown among many political observers. To help shed light on Mr. Kemp’s position on abortion, we have decided to share with our readers highlights of an interview Dr. Willke did with Mr. Kemp regarding his position. The entire interview ran in our July 1993 issue.
WILLKE: You said, “I am pro-life. I believe strongly in the sanctity of human life. I want to reduce America’s runaway abortion-on-demand. We must aid adoption. It is important for us to move from a legal framework to changing hearts and minds.” Is this an accurate quote?
KEMP: Yes. As Mr. Jefferson said, ‘The God who gave us freedom gave us life.’ Both need to be defended. We must show women that we have compassion for them and for the life of their children, after, as well as before birth. I know you agree, Dr. Willke, that the way you express your defense of human life is as important as the position itself, insofar as convincing people is concerned. I was a strong supporter of the pro-life cause in Congress, and I will continue to advance these views.
WILLKE: What will your political position be on parental consent and notification?
KEMP: Strongly supportive.
WILLKE: A waiting period before an abortion?
KEMP: Absolutely! The Republican Party must not run away from its pro-life position. We must reaffirm our principles of human rights and civil rights for all people.
WILLKE: Clinical regulation of abortion facilities?
KEMP: Yes, of course, emphatically yes.
WILLKE: Assuming you want to protect the unborn, do you have any exceptions?
KEMP: Yes an exception to save her life, when it’s threatened.
WILLKE: What of funding?
KEMP: I have voted for the Hyde Amendment in the past and would have voted for its broader form this year which included rape and incest.
WILLKE: What is your position on rape and incest?
KEMP: My position has always been pro-life. I think it was wise, during the recent debate over the Hyde Amendment, to broaden the bill to support the life of the mother, rape and incest…Otherwise we would have lost the Hyde Amendment completely, opening the door to taxpayer-funded abortions.
WILLKE: In other words you favor achieving what is possible.
KEMP: I think what is possible is very important. I think the pro-life movement, as you yourself have demonstrated, has to find ways of reaching the vast center of the political spectrum without sacrificing basic principles.
WILLKE: What about the Mexico City policy?
KEMP: I was one of the strongest supporters in the Congress of the Mexico City policy. It was the Mexico City policy decision by Reagan that led Senator Bob Kasten and me to put an end to the money going to the UNFPA for population control, infanticide and euthanasia in China.
WILLKE: What about the Big Tent? The Litmus test?
KEMP: I don’t talk about a Big Tent. I talk about inclusion, not exclusion. I talk about making the conservative movement progressive, not reactionary. There are certain things, however, that have a basic ethical, moral, conservative and fundamental principles behind them. Among these in my view are…limited government, lower taxes, free trade, peace through strength, recognition of the family as the basic unit of society and respect for human life.
WILLKE: One of your assets is that you have a certain empathy, a certain communication with and support of minority races, particularly blacks. They voted overwhelming against Bush. Two-thirds of black people oppose abortion, but the black caucus has been solidly pro-abortion. Do you see that relating to our issue in any way?
KEMP: Yes! I haven’t spoken before a lot of African-American groups on the issue of abortion, although I’ve read some of the things your fine organization has turned out. I think it is a travesty that the party of Lincoln only got 10% of the black vote in this last election.
I think the Republican Party cannot compete effectively with the current Democrat president, if it turns its back on people of color.
WILLKE: You have very strong convictions on economic issues. Do these relate to our pro-life issue?
KEMP: I think the economic stability of the family is absolutely critical to rebuilding our party’s attraction in the inner cities and with men and women of color. I’ve always said that children, regardless of race, are our greatest resource.
It was the economy that defeated George Bush in my view, not his pro-life position. In fact, this was a plus. So, when I talk about an inclusive party, I think that means accepting and working with men and women with whom I might have disagreements on certain issues. But there is a lode-star to follow. The lode-star for Republicans is Lincoln’s view of the party, not Bill Clinton’s left-wing social positions.
On August 19, 1996 Mr. Kemp was quoted by the New York Post: “Wherever you stand on the issue of abortion…I can’t imagine our nation being that city on the hill if we continue to allow the partial-birth abortion tragedy. ….Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly agreed to ban the practice in the Congress, and the president vetoed it.”