Elections see gains for pro-life candidates

BRAINTREE -- Results of the recent federal and state elections indicate that pro-life and pro-family legislators will impact future legislative sessions, say the heads of local Church, pro-life and pro-traditional family organizations.

At the national level, pro-life, pro-traditional family legislators will be in the majority in the House of Representatives, and could work to block bills that are perceived as threatening the pro-traditional family agenda.

On Beacon Hill, meanwhile, the Nov. 2 state elections saw pro-life and pro-traditional family candidates make gains, though they remain in the minority.

"As far as the country goes, it's fabulous," said Anne Fox, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL). "As far as the state goes, we would have liked to see some of the people we endorsed win."

Among the notable losses in statewide races was Independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill, who garnered 8 percent of the vote.

In races for seats on Beacon Hill, MCFL-endorsed candidates won seven Senate seats, 40 House seats and three seats on the Governor's Council. The candidates were a mixture of Republicans and Democrats.

As a result of the gains, pro-life legislators will be in a position to influence potential legislation on controversial issues such as physician-assisted suicide or sexual education measures that Fox said could provide abortion to minors.

The new legislature that will convene in January could also move to defund recent health care legislation, which pro-lifers have found objectionable amidst concerns that the law could provide taxpayer funded abortions, according to Fox.

"It's a big step, and considering the rest of the elections in this state were very bad, winning these local races and sending people up to Beacon Hill is very important," Fox said.

Concurring with Fox's concern over taxpayer funded abortions is Gerry D'Avolio, executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in the state. According to D'Avolio, one important issue is the health care bill and the possibility of changing the law to address the taxpayer funded abortion provisions, which he calls a "loophole" in the legislation.

"I think that is going to be one of the priorities," he said.

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said that the local electoral gains could result in a push to pass Laura's Law, which would require a medical consultation for a woman seeking an abortion.

"Their voice is going to be much louder that in the past," said Mineau. "We've got a long way to go before we're in the majority, but it's a step in the right direction."

"We're very much encouraged because of the state House victories and we hope we will have more of those in the not too distant future," he added.

Mineau addressed the impact the elections will have in the federal government, saying the new Congress could block legislation leftover from last year.

Specifically, Mineau cited the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

FOCA would forbid federal, state and local governments from imposing abortion restrictions, including the current partial-birth abortion ban. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act prohibits larger civilian, non-religious employers from discriminating against their employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Mineau predicted both bills would be "dead on arrival" to the new Congress.

However, he said the same-sex marriage issue could ultimately come to the United States Supreme Court, with advocates of same-sex marriage suing in state courts for the right of such couples to receive federal benefits.

As a result of the recent elections, the pro-life and pro-family voice could better impact the political landscape, according to Mineau, Fox and D'Avolio.

"There has been a marked shift for the better for life and family values," Mineau said.