Memo from the National Right-to-Life Committee to Republican Members of Congress

To: Pro-Life Members of the Republican Conference

From: Douglas Johnson, NRLC Legislative Director, (202) 626-8820

Date: Thursday, July 25, 1996

It has been reliably reported that the leadership has imposed certain penalties on Congressmen Chris Smith and Bob Dornan because of their support for former Congressman Joseph DioGuardi, who is challenging Congresswomen Sue Kelly in the New York Republican primary.

During his four years in the House (1985-1989), Mr. DioGuardi had a 100% pro-life voting record. In contrast, Ms. Kelly is pro-abortion activist, one of only 15 House Republicans to stand with President Clinton in opposing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Bob Dole referred to the President’s veto of this bill as “the definition of extremism on this issue,” and as “the worst thing President Clinton has done.”

When the president of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftwokers, John T. Joyce, recently announced that he had dropped his support for President Clinton’s re-election because of the President’s veto of the ban on partial-birth abortions, Mr. Joyce’s stand was rightly applauded by many as courageous and principled. Under the House leadership’s rule, however, if any member of the Republican Conference takes a comparable step, similarly dictated by deep personal convictions on this unique life and death issue, sanctions will be applied. NRLC believes that sanctions are unjustified in this situation. NRLC therefore encourages pro-life members to sign the letter being circulated for the purpose of bringing about discussion and a vote in the Republican conference on a resolution to affirm Member’s conscience rights in these matters, with any sanctions being reserved for votes of the full Conference.

It is particularly ironic that support for Ms. Kelly is being declared a matter of party discipline, in view of Ms. Kelly’s own attempts to defeat pro-life Republican Congressman Hamilton Fish in 1992. As the Congressional Quarterly almanac Politics in America: 1996 relates:

Kelly gave names of pro-abortion-rights Republicans to Fish’s Democratic challenger, Neil McCarthy. In addition, Kelly, dress in a black cloak resembling an Iranian chador, demonstrated outside Fish’s office holding a sign that read, “Fish = Women in the Dark Ages,” according to The Reporter Dispatch of Westchester County. (p. 931)

Thank you for your consideration of these points.

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