This article first appeared online at Politico.com on August 24, 2011.
Perry signs SBA List pledge
By: Alexander Burns
The Texas governor has added his name to the list of candidates signing the Susan B. Anthony List’s strict anti-abortion pledge, checking a box with social conservatives that distinguishes him from top rival Mitt Romney.
The SBA List pledge includes four points: a vow to only nominate strict constructionist judges, to “select only pro-life appointees for relevant Cabinet and Executive Branch positions,” to push for defunding Planned Parenthood and other taxpayer-supported abortion providers and to sign a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
In a statement release by the SBA List, Perry said he not only pledges “to protect unborn life, but have a record of doing so … I have signed legislation requiring parental consent for a minor to obtain an abortion, and have long advocated adoption as an alternative to abortion in order to protect unborn children.”
All the major Republican presidential candidates oppose abortion, but Perry’s willingness to sign the SBA List pledge distinguishes him from Romney (as well as Jon Huntsman) who has declined to do so. That could help Perry shore up support among social conservatives already wary of Romney.
The flip side is that some provisions of the SBA List pledge — putting an abortion-related litmus test on Cabinet appointments, for example — may be less sympathetic to important general-election voters such as suburban women.
UPDATE: It’s worth adding here that Perry’s pledge not to appoint abortion-rights supporters to the Cabinet seems more than a little bit in tension with his support for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign. First off, it means that he couldn’t appoint Giuliani to serve as attorney general, one of the Cabinet jobs specifically mentioned in the SBA List pledge. More generally, there’s something odd about being more comfortable with a president who’s liberal on abortion than a secretary of health and human services who is.