Hank Brown Rallies Republican Majority for Choice

This article originally was published by Grand Junction’s Free Press.

September 15, 2008

Hank Brown Rallies Republican Majority for Choice

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

“The heart of the Republican Party is here tonight… This party has always been a bastion of protecting individual freedom, and individual rights, and individual opportunity. It took the form of fighting slavery, it took the form of leading the civil rights movement…

“It took a place in fighting to preserve individual freedom as the government became a regulatory monster at the federal level. And even today it takes the form of fighting to save Americans who work for a living a chance and an opportunity to keep a fair share of what they produce…

“And in true form the Republican Party continues to be a champion of individual freedom and individual rights. The issue that we are concerned about tonight is just such an issue. Who in the world ever would believe that the federal government and a federal bureaucrat should have the right to dictate to people their most personal decisions?

“This issue is about individual freedom, individual responsibility — the very heart of this Republican Party. It’s what we’ve always stood for. It’s what’s held us together… and what’s set Republicans apart. We’re the ones who believe individuals have a right to control their own lives. Individuals have a right to decide their own destiny…

“Our gathering tonight is very much in the spirit of this party, it’s been the very fiber of what it’s believed in and stood for its entire existence. And at the point that we give up supporting and defending individual freedom and choice, we give up the very core of this great party.”

Hank Brown, former U.S. Senator and former president of the University of Colorado, shared those remarks last week in Denver with hundreds of supporters of the Republican Majority for Choice (GOPChoice.org), a national group with a strong Colorado presence. The group organized the event to support a woman’s right to choose whether to get an abortion and to oppose Amendment 48, which would define a fertilized egg as a person in Colorado’s Constitution.

Brown’s remarks impress us for several reasons. As one of the elder statesmen of the Republican Party in Colorado, and as one of the state’s most respected leaders, his words carry a great deal of weight. He has shown real leadership by championing a cause unpopular with a segment of his party’s base. He has restated his party’s basic principles. And he has pointed the way for his party to regain the trust of freedom-minded independent voters and Republicans who respect the separation of church and state.

Brown’s comments are broader than a single issue: in a few words, he has restated the principles of liberty that we once thought — and would like to think again — belong to the Republican Party.

John McCain hardly ever mentions the words “individual rights,” and never have we heard him muster much enthusiasm for the concept. Hank Brown said it, and he meant it. While Brown’s party side came through when he praised McCain to your younger author, we wish that come November we could cast our presidential vote for a man like Brown.

We know what the opponents of abortion are thinking at this point. “What about the individual freedoms, rights, and choices of the unborn?” Brown did not get into that philosophical debate. As we’ve mentioned, the paper “Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life” at SecularGovernment.us explains why a fertilized egg is not a person.

Other speakers explained why Amendment 48 threatens to outlaw abortion — even in cases of rape and health risks to the woman — ban popular forms of birth control, ban fertility treatments, and unleash legal havoc in Colorado.

Brown was joined at the event by other notable Republicans, including Gale Norton, former Secretary of the Interior, and State Senator Nancy Spence.

From Grand Junction, former State Representative Gayle Berry attended. She’s on the advisory board for the Republican Majority for Choice. She said her goal as part of the organization is “keeping government out of personal choice… A lot of us would choose life, we just don’t want government making those decisions for us.” She said she’s particularly concerned that Amendment 48 would become part of the state’s constitution, beyond the reach of the legislature. Also, “it puts ‘person’ in a definition that could be carried to the extreme.”

Berry also showed a party side. Regarding Sarah Palin, who opposes abortion, Berry said, “I love her… I’m not a one-issue voter, and she’s not a one-issue candidate.” Berry also pointed out that Bob Schaffer also has come out against Amendment 48, though we note that he has not done so based on any fundamental principle. So the GOP remains conflicted.

In 1967, Republican Governor John Love signed a bill liberalizing Colorado’s abortion laws. We’re glad to see that, in 2008, some Republicans are again planting roots in the soil of liberty.