The whole thing about whether Fred Thompson is pro-life or not is kind of bizarre, especially when it is pushed by Mitt Romney’s campaign.
David Brody has a good rundown of the current critique. In the end, he has the right analysis:
I think at the end of the day these abortion incidents from the 1990’s probably don’t amount to much. Listen, the reality is Thompson was a 100% national Right to Life guy. His Planned Parenthood score was 0. Those numbers mean something. Was the pro-life cause his number one issue? No. Number two? No. On the list? Probably but not high. The social conservative leaders I’ve spoken to want to make sure the next President will be a reliable vote on the life issue. As long as he doesn’t go off the reservation, then there’s no problem. What I’m hearing is that Thompson is saying all the right things to certain religious leaders and they are taking to him.
The first point is that his record is pretty solid, outside of some statements. The fact is that the questions that the issues that Brody brings out aren’t where the action is. And, more important for many of the Washington groups. They want access and a relationship. And Thompson is clearly willing to give that. In many ways, that is why Romney is attractive and John McCain may not be. It is not because of McCain’s stances on the issue — isn’t he the only first tier candidate who supports a Human Life amendment? — but rather that the groups don’t think that they will get access to him.
Furthermore, Fred, unlike Romney, has a good conversion story:
Thompson did however in 1994 fill out a survey for Project Vote Smart in which he supported legal first-trimester abortion. However Thompson’s voting record does not reflect this, and Thompson says his views on abortion deepened greatly after watching a sonogram of his 3 year-old daughter.
If Fred has to compare his conversion story to Romney’s, Fred wins. After all, Romney’s doesn’t involve his 5 sons or 10 grandkids. It involves some cells in a petri dish and a discussion with a scientist in an office.