By Ariana Gilbert
This week my friend Delilah and I attended the monthly Somerville Republican City Committee meeting at the local library. That isn’t the type of thing I’m typically stoked to do on a Monday night, but this meeting was different - I’d heard that Beth Lindstrom, candidate for the U.S. Senate, would be speaking. Since I volunteer with Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Anne Fox suggested that I go and ask Ms. Lindstrom if she would be supportive of the pro-life movement in Massachusetts and on the national level.
I believe the only way we’re going to get more pro-life politicians in office is by showing up at events like this and making it known that pro-lifers vote too, so this seemed like a good opportunity to let a candidate know what we’re looking for, as well as make them aware of the great pro-women, pro-child work being done in our state.
Ms. Lindstrom was not able to make this meeting, but her husband, Ray Murphy, came in her place to speak about her qualifications and intentions if elected senator. He mostly talked about his wife’s tenacity and grit, citing her commitment to Romney’s campaign for Governor (she moved next to the campaign headquarters for a month), her success in leading Scott Brown’s campaign, and her rapid rise to being the first woman Executive Director of the Massachusetts State Lottery.
Mr. Murphy would probably have preferred to stay away from pro-life issues, but my friend and I were there specifically to learn about Lindstrom’s stance on this issue, and so were many others in the room. One audience member straight out asked if Ms. Lindstrom would work to end abortion, and Mr. Murphy replied that his wife believes in a woman’s right to choose. He was then asked if she would work to defund Planned Parenthood, and he replied that they do much more than provide abortions, for example providing birth control and health care. Even the Washington Post has recognized that they are deceptive in their abortion-to-other services ratio, and as for their non-abortion services, those can be provided by Federally Qualified Health Centers. Mr. Murphy’s comments were reminiscent of Charlie Baker’s promise to increase state-funding to Planned Parenthood in the event that Washington managed to cut federal funding (no one said it was going to be easy being pro-life in Massachusetts….).
I asked Mr. Murphy how he expected his wife to vote in a situation like the one that arose last year when Vice President Pence was the tie-breaking vote in the Senate on legislation that allows states to direct Title X funds to health clinics that do not perform abortions. Title X is a federal grant program that funds family planning services. Under Obama, regulations were implemented that require states to distribute these funds equally to all health centers that provide family planning services. There was a vote in the Senate that would have allowed states to make their own choice as to which centers get Title X funds (i.e. some states would direct funds towards FQHC and other centers that do not provide abortions). Two Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, voted against rolling back the Obama-era legislation. Mr. Murphy did not know of this vote, and replied that he could not know how his wife would vote in that type of situation.
The meeting ended a little early, and Brian McCarthy was kind enough to ask if I’d like to talk for a few minutes about the work MCFL is doing. At this point it was apparent to me that Mr. Murphy, and likely his wife, do not know much about the pro-life movement in Massachusetts and the amazing work being done to support women and children. I was thankful for this opportunity to point out that pro-lifers are working towards a world where abortion is not just illegal, but unthinkable, because women feel so supported that they wouldn’t consider seeking an abortion. I mentioned some of the organizations that offer women a home, parenting classes, and help with college or career training, including My Father’s House and Friends of the Unborn. I also gave a shout out to one Boston-area Pregnancy Resource Center that provides a 24/7 hotline for women to call, which is just one small example of how we make ourselves available to women.
After the meeting, I was able to talk to Mr. Murphy one on one. I pointed out that even as a moderate, there was a lot his wife could do to at least not oppose pro-life work in Massachusetts. For example, California is trying to force Pregnancy Resource Centers to advertise free abortions to the women who come to their centers. Would Ms. Lindstrom be neutral on such an issue in Massachusetts? No direct answer was given. I said that last year New York state extended abortion limitations so that children can be aborted up to 26 weeks old (I was wrong, I conflated the expansion of third-trimester abortions in NY, with a blanket law allowing them), and would Ms. Lindstrom at least not seek to expand abortion? Again, no direct answer was given. Mr. Murphy did say that his wife doesn’t believe in ideological tests, and if a judge with a pro-life record was nominated, she would not hold that against them. I replied that was the least I would expect from a Republican senator. I mean, come on, guy.
I gave Mr. Murphy a packet of brochures and contact information for some of the Pregnancy Resource Centers in Massachusetts, and asked him to pass them on to his wife so that they can both learn more about about the work the pro-life movement is doing. He said that he would and that they are happy to learn more.
I’m happy they’re happy to learn more, but let’s be real. Ms. Lindstrom and her husband Mr. Murphy are in their late 50s. If they’ve made it this far without recognizing that one side of the debate is about empowering women to achieve in their careers and education while parenting, and the other side offers only the bleak option of ending a child’s life, they’re not about to become champions of the unborn.
To wrap this all up, polling shows that Elizabeth Warren is likely to beat the Republican nominee for senator by a large margin (shocker). This might make the whole Republican senate race seem like a moot point, and discourage people from engaging. But if we don’t make our voices heard, how will we ever get a candidate who speaks up for the unborn? Even if they don’t win the race, I’d like to see the most pro-life nominee possible up against Warren. It isn’t all about winning; we’re in it for the long run, and being seen and heard is a step in the right direction.
Editor’s note: Two other announced Republican candidates for Senate from Mass., State Rep Geof Diehl and Heidi Wellman, have answered pro-life to the National Right to Life Questionnaire. John Kingston has not answered any questionnaires at this point. When he was a student at Harvard Law School, he was a founder of the pro-life Society for Law, Life, and Religion.