Fred Thompson's Abortion Evolution

GOP candidate says sonogram of young daughter changed his abortion views.

ByABC News
February 19, 2009, 2:51 AM

Nov. 13, 2007 — -- When the presidential campaign of former Republican Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson got a much-needed boost Tuesday morning with its endorsement from the National Right to Life Committee, one of the nation's leading anti-abortion interest groups, there was more going on than the standard political backing. This was a key constituency telling its supporters that Thompson is to be believed.

"I am blessed and grateful to have received their endorsement," said Thompson, whose campaign depends upon the support of social conservatives.

During his eight years in the Senate, Thompson consistently voted against abortion rights, but anti-abortion activists say his public record on the subject is not unblemished.

A longtime advocate for states' rights, Thompson has said the federal government should not have a role in the process.

During a televised 1994 Senate debate, a clip of which is available on YouTube, Thompson said, "Should the government come in and criminalize let's say a young girl and her parents and her doctor? ... I think not."

More recently, Thompson has been forced to answer questions about his career as a lawyer/lobbyist, when the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association hired him in 1991 to lobby the administration of President George H.W. Bush on behalf of abortion rights.

In Georgia last month, Thompson said, "That was private life ... Those people now are coming out of the woodwork now because I'm their worst nightmare. I proceeded to go to the United States Senate and vote against them consistently for eight years so now they're trying to defeat me."

The National Right to Life Committee seemed to tacitly acknowledge that other Republican candidates -- such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- have purer records on the subject in its endorsement, in which the group made a nod to Thompson's electability.

"Our endorsement is a testament to Sen. Thompson's long-standing pro-life record, his commitment to unborn children, and our belief in his ability to win," said Wanda Franz, the NRLC president.