NRL News

What Makes a Pro-Life Governor? Evaluating the Role of Governor and Life Issues

by | Nov 4, 2015

By Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director

Editor’s note. The following appeared on the webpage of Louisiana Right to Life, NRLC’s state affiliate.

foxnews-forumWe have received a lot of questions and inquiries about the two candidates in a heated runoff for Louisiana governor. Pro-life citizens clearly understand that the role of governor is essential to the protection of human life. The questions have generally focused around whether the candidates are pro-life or not.

Louisiana Right to Life is a non-partisan organization, and it has been our policy for many years not to endorse candidates. Our goal is to educate the electorate on where candidates stand on the life issues. We strive to be fair to candidates, and I believe we have and will continue to do so.

To find how Representative Edwards and Senator Vitter have answered the Louisiana Right to Life questionnaire, and to learn about their voting records on life issues, please visit our website We also encourage you to research, on your own, the statements of candidates and their history of interaction with the pro-life cause.

While understanding where candidates stand is of upmost importance, we also encourage you to ask another question: What makes a pro-life governor? Answering this question can provide you a roadmap as you consider how to vote pro-life in any election for governor.

I summarize the qualities we need in a pro-life governor in one phrase: proactive and committed leadership for life, even when the public is not looking.

The role of governor in Louisiana is a powerful one. It spans from interaction with the Legislature, the enforcement of laws within a vast administration, the defense of laws in the court system, and the ability to place critical issues on the forefront of the Louisiana citizenry through the “soapbox” of the Governor’s Mansion.

Each of these areas of gubernatorial responsibility is key to protecting life. But it takes a governor who is truly committed and proactive to the pro-life cause to fulfill the role of a pro-life governor because so many decisions occur out of the public eye.

Let’s take a look at four key areas of a governor’s responsibility as it relates to the pro-life cause.

#1. Pro-Life Leadership with the Legislature

At the core of the governor’s pro-life responsibilities is to sign pro-life legislation, and when necessary, veto anti-life legislation. It is easy for us to evaluate our governor’s success or failure because of the public nature of these decisions. Recent history shows us that all our governors have been pro-life in this regard.

But before legislation is even discussed, a governor should be concerned about whether the leadership of the House and the Senate shares a pro-life commitment. From them, will the makeup of key legislative committees reflect the pro-life will of the people? This is important, as it will likely determine whether pro-life legislation succeeds or fails.

Once the session begins, the governor can call attention to key legislation he supports. On the flip side, the governor can help address issues with concerning legislation or seek to defeat anti-life legislation outright.

And what about the “gray” areas? Will our governor side step the challenging issues or meet them head on? There is no way for the public to “score” those times a governor turns a blind eye to a tough issue. What will our governor decide when we are not in the room?

#2: Enforcement of Laws in a Vast Administration

If you thought certain legislative decisions were tough to evaluate publicly, that pales in comparison to the decisions, or lack thereof, within a governor’s administration.

To begin, the governor cannot be everywhere and often cannot be reached. Will his staff be committed to the pro-life cause or at least willing to proactively implement the will of the governor? Proactive is the key word here. Important decisions can be “lost” in communication.

As the state’s chief executive, the governor’s responsibilities include the enforcement of laws, and the governor does that through many different departments and agencies. Each department has a leader the governor must appoint. Will these critical heads of such departments as the Department of Health & Hospitals and the Department of Children & Family Services be pro-life? Will they administer with the commitment of the governor?

Louisiana has perhaps the most pro-life set of laws in the nation. But if these laws are not diligently enforced, they are not worth the paper they are printed on. With an abortion industry looking to cut corners and maximize profit, will the administration protect the health and safety of women by ensuring abortion facility regulations are enforced?

# 3: Defense of Pro-Life Laws

Once pro-life legislation has been signed, pro-abortion attorneys will likely challenge it in federal court. We are experiencing this right now as the Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, signed into law in 2014, languishes in federal district court awaiting a decision on its future.

Is our next governor prepared to put the resources of the administration on the hook to defend these laws? Many important decisions will be made by the next governor on the defense of life in courtrooms, especially as it relates to defunding Planned Parenthood. Will our next governor be a proactive pro-life leader?

#4: The Soapbox: Placing Issues on the Forefront

It is essential to have a governor who places the life issues on the forefront and is committed to finding new ways to protect human lives in Louisiana. The governor can promote positive education and awareness on crucial issues, such as adoption, abortion, pregnancy resources centers, and much more. The governor can accomplish this by using the power of his office to deliver a pro-life message in ways that average citizens cannot. Whether at his own events, directly to the media, or at existing pro-life functions, the governor can magnify the pro-life voice in hopes of altering the fabric of culture toward life.

In conclusion, becoming a pro-life governor takes a person willing to be a proactive and committed leader for life, even when the public is not looking. It takes initiative. It takes commitment. It takes pro-life leadership.

As citizens of a pro-life state, we should settle for nothing less.

Categories: Politics Pro-Lifers