Taking our responsibility to save lives and educate voters seriously

April 25, 2018

A special message from IRTL President and CEO Mike Fichter

Recently I was surprised to learn of the sharp criticism of Indiana Right to Life’s political activities from the leader of another organization in Indiana. While I fully respect the rights of others to share their opinions, I do feel such public criticism requires a public response.

The author criticized Indiana Right to Life for being single issue. We are unapologetically single issue, and that issue is life. We make no pretense to be anything else but single issue. It is the hallmark of whom we are. It is this focused approach that has made us highly respected by both friends and foe alike at the Statehouse, as well as in the public square. Other organizations have full ability to choose which battles they will fight; Indiana Right to Life will remain focused on protecting life.

We were also criticized for endorsing 100% pro-life incumbents over challengers. Indiana Right to Life has a long-standing endorsement policy of endorsing pro-life incumbents in recognition of the fact that they have consistently voted for pro-life legislation. Legislators know, understand and respect our pro-life incumbent endorsement policy. More than a few legislators now serving at the Statehouse were subject to this policy when running as challengers; now they receive our endorsement as incumbents.

Exceptions to our pro-life incumbent endorsement policy include situations such as incumbents declining to complete surveys or when extenuating circumstances apply. There are several pro-life incumbents in this year’s primary, for example, who did not receive endorsements in contested races because they did not complete the pro-life surveys mailed to them.

The most notable example of an extenuating circumstance resulting in the denial of an endorsement is Rep. Curt Nisly (Indiana House District 22), who misleadingly replied on his survey that he would oppose legislation that would eliminate current abortion regulations in Indiana.  This is exactly what his House Bill 1097 does, as interested voters can see for themselves by reading the bill here. Providing a liberal judge with a bill that proactively strikes all Indiana abortion regulations passed since 1973 would be detrimental to our focused mission of protecting life.

Indiana Right to Life is consistent in its pro-life incumbent endorsement policy, even when it comes to challengers with previous relationships with our organization. On more than one occasion I have informed large donors choosing to run for public office of our pro-life incumbent policy, only to see their financial giving to Indiana Right to Life cease as a result. This year is no exception.

We are likewise criticized for not making more multiple endorsements such as the three-way endorsement of Mike Braun, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, for U.S. Senate. This criticism is particularly puzzling due to the multiple endorsements made by the Indiana Right Life PAC in Congressional Districts 4 and 6, as well as in multiple state legislative races. In every race in which more than one candidate is endorsed, there is no pro-life incumbent, for the seat being sought in the race. Endorsements in such races are made based on a wider array of factors including the strength of completed surveys, previous voting records in other offices, proven track records of involvement on life issues, and more.

Finally, I must address the assertion that Indiana Right to Life failed to endorse pro-life challengers in contested primaries against pro-abortion incumbents.  I have asked the author of this criticism to identify the races in question, yet as of this writing, I have received no response. The most likely reason for a non-endorsement in such cases is a candidate’s failure to return a completed survey, or a candidate returning a survey so weak on the pro-life position that it does not rise to the level of receiving an endorsement.

Indiana Right to Life takes its responsibility to educate voters seriously.  This is why, in addition to making PAC endorsements, we produce an extensive voter guide providing voters with candidate replies to 16 questions covering a broad range of pro-life topics. This is in great contrast to voter guides based on subjective grading systems, or surveys consisting of two questions. We encourage every voter to exercise the right to vote and to choose for themselves which candidates to support.

Indiana Right to Life’s political endorsement process may not be perfect, but I am not aware of any organization whose process is. We do the best that we can, surveying over three hundred candidates, compiling results, taking into account pro-life voting records and incumbency, and informing pro-life voters in a consistent and civil manner.

Is our process successful? The number of children killed by abortion in Indiana has dropped for eight straight years, with 3,642 fewer children aborted in 2016 alone versus 2008. Four abortion facilities have shut their doors. We credit much of this success to the pro-life policy advances we’ve made at the Statehouse through the hard work, and the votes, of candidates we’ve endorsed. We’re not concerned with criticism. Our concern is on saving lives. And there are children alive today in Indiana because of the work we are doing. That’s where our focus will remain. Because unborn children have a right to life.













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