Pro-Life Groups Still Unimpressed With Ridge

By Jennifer Groover | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Ridge can't please abortion rights activists, nor can he please pro-life groups, all of whom are waiting, along with the rest of the country, to hear whether Ridge will be selected by George W Bush to be part of the Republican presidential ticket in the fall.

The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League has issued its Report Card on Choice, and given Ridge a grade of "D," for "disappointing work that continues to decline." Ridge is pro-choice, but favors certain abortion restrictions.

The criticism from NARAL might be perceived as boosting Ridge's chances to be picked as Bush's running mate. However, in interviews conducted Friday with pro-life groups, none indicated that the NARAL report card had changed its view of Ridge.

Douglas Johnson, the Legislative Director of National Right to Life said Ridge's record speaks for itself. "During his time in Congress, he had a very strong pro-abortion record. He wasn't very bashful about voicing his pro-abortion views in those days, and in more recent years he has come to say he supports a waiting period and a partial birth abortion ban. These are very marginal things...he's for Roe versus Wade still," Johnson said.

Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America said, "NARAL releases reports like this all the's just a publicity ploy to get attention to NARAL, to get abortion on demand."

"Most people are just going to hear the grade. They may understand it has to do with abortion, but the majority of people aren't going to look much further than that," Wright said.

Stacy Kratt, Executive Director of Republicans for Choice believes the grade given Ridge was incorrect. "NARAL and Planned Parenthood are much more heavily Democratic; it's all or nothing for them so I wouldn't put much stock in them giving Governor Ridge a "D,"" Kratt said.

Ridge, who is Catholic himself, has drawn criticism from Catholic groups because of his pro-choice position. He does support a ban on partial birth abortion, favors parental notification laws and a twenty-four hour waiting period. However, Bishop Donald Trautman, the head of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ridge's home town, announced in November of last year, that Ridge and other pro-choice politicians like him were not welcome at Catholic events.

Still, Ridge, by many accounts, remains on the list of possible vice-presidential running mates for Bush, primarily because he governs a huge and important state, Pennsylvania, in a region, the Northeast, where GOP presidential candidates have fared poorly in the last two elections.

Other possible running mates were graded by NARAL. Elizabeth Dole, Governors John Engler of Michigan, Frank Keating of Oklahoma, Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Fred Thompson of Tennessee all received "F's" on the report card. All are pro-life.

NARAL gave New York Governor George Pataki a "C" and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman a "B" for demonstrating leadership on the abortion rights issue. Both Pataki and Whitman are pro-choice. Whitman also opposes the ban on partial-birth abortion.