Thursday, October 26, 2000

Anti-abortion group encourages votes for Lucas

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, the Boone County Democrat seeking re-election in Northern Kentucky's 4th Congressional District, has picked up the support of a statewide anti-abortion group.

        The Louisville-based Kentucky Right to Life Association fell just short of endorsing Mr. Lucas, but recommended that its members vote for him.

        Mr. Lucas' campaign is looking at the recommendation as a big campaign boost, given that he was not endorsed or recommended by the group two years ago.

        The group's support has cooled for Mr. Lucas' opponent, Republican Don Bell of Oldham County, who was endorsed by Kentucky Right to Life in the May primary.

        In its most recent newsletter, which includes the recommendation for Mr. Lucas, the group said that Mr. Bell gave “pro-life responses” to its questionnaire.

        Margie Montgomery, the association's executive director, did not return a phone call to comment. But she said in a statement supplied by the Lucas campaign that Mr. Lucas' voting record during his term in Congress has supported the organization's anti-abortion platform.

        “Ken Lucas has been very open and straightforward in his opposition to abortion,” Ms. Montgomery said.

        Mr. Lucas has supported:

        • An amendment to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from approving drugs that chemically induce abortions, including the recently approved RU-486 pill.

        • The Child Custody Act, which would make it a crime to transport minors across state lines to circumvent pa rental consent abortion laws.

        • Restrictions on government-subsidized abortions for federal employees and in U.S. military medical facilities.

        • Late-term abortions known as partial-birth abortions.

        “When we live in a culture of death, it is difficult to teach our children the value of life,” Mr. Lucas said. “I will always look for opportunities to protect human life.”

        Mr. Lucas was not, however, endorsed or supported by Northern Kentucky Right to Life, the local anti-abortion group. That organization has endorsed Mr. Bell.

        Fred Summe, one of the local group's leaders, said Mr. Lucas was not endorsed because he supports other elected officials viewed as favoring abortion rights, including Gov. Paul Patton and President Clinton.

        Boone County Commissioner Robert Hay, a staunch opponent of abortion, said Mr. Lucas has also supported limits on campaign spending that would restrict the political efforts of anti-abortion groups.

        “My hope is that Ken Lucas continues to move the right way,” Mr. Hay said Wednesday. “I'm watching carefully to see if he is developing a consistent pro-life stand. But I can't in good conscience support him or lend him any endorsement at all.”

        But the Lucas campaign has called into question Mr. Bell's commitment to anti-abortion causes.

        The Lucas camp has circulated a 1990 Oldham Era newspaper article in which Mr. Bell said he rejected the “pro-life” label and that the government should not be involved in a woman's decision to have an abortion.

        Mr. Bell said during a televised debate last week that he has since changed his stance and believes abortion should be outlawed in all instances.

        Mr. Summe said he was not bothered by the comments Mr. Bell made in the article and is convinced that Mr. Bell is “pro-life.”

        “Maybe that was his position then, but we look for converts in our movement,” he said. “I don't have a clue why (Kentucky Right to Life) is supporting Ken Lucas. You'll have to ask them.”

        Mr. Hay, who has contributed money to Mr. Bell's campaign and co-hosted a Sept. 29 fund-raiser for the candidate, said he is not concerned about the comments Mr. Bell made a decade ago.

        “Don Bell is 100 percent pro-life and we can count on him to go to Washington and make the right votes,” Mr. Hay said.

        Eric Deters, Mr. Bell's campaign manager, said he is confident about Mr. Bell's anti-abortion stance “or I wouldn't be supporting him.”

        “Everybody who has been around in politics and ran for office doesn't feel about some things the way they felt 10 or 15 or 20 years ago,” said Mr. Deters, an Independence lawyer.


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