“Pro-life” republican shows his true colors

Showcasing the difference between words and actions.


Candidate Owen Hill and his family

Usually, if you visit a candidate’s website and do a little web searching, you can discover where he or she stands on abortion. However, sometimes it’s a bit trickier than that. Not all “pro-life” candidates are what they seem. Some like to speak out of both sides of their mouth or, rather, let their words say one thing and their actions another.

Take a Colorado State Senate race, for example. In Colorado State Senate District 10, a Republican primary is underway between Representative Larry Liston and military veteran Owen Hill. Most assume that any Republican running in the conservative hotbed of Colorado Springs is naturally pro-life. Both Liston and Hill claim to be pro-life on their campaign websites. But not so fast.

On Liston’s issue page, you will find these claims:

Right to Life

  • Believes in the sanctity of life and that life is created at conception.
  • Supports parental consent for minors and the importance of the traditional family unit.
  • Opposes taxpayer funded abortion and partial birth abortion.
  • Supports increased emphasis on alternatives to abortion, such as counseling, adoption, and foster care. Supports wholesome education about alternatives and improved access to alternatives.

Sounds pretty good, yes? Not one of the strongest pro-life stands I’ve ever heard, but it would be easy to assume that Representative Larry Liston is, overall, a pro-life candidate. Well, that’s how it would appear until you check out his actions.

It’s interesting to note that Liston is sometimes wary of giving voters too much information on his positions. Project Vote Smart reports:

Larry Liston refused to tell citizens where he stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.

Additionally, according to Colorado Right to Life, despite Liston’s eight years as a state representative, he:

has never returned a CRTL survey, and is thought to be indifferent to pro-life issues.  Liston also voted for a conscience-violating measure requiring pro-life doctors and pharmacists to provide “emergency contraception” (i.e. the abortifacient “morning after” pill).

Yet, despite his failure to answer questions posed by a pro-life organization, Liston is apparently more than happy to cooperate with Planned Parenthood. In 2010, he answered their candidate survey. While some of his answers jibe with the pro-life viewpoint, others clearly do not:

Do you oppose any effort to bar Planned Parenthood from federal and state health care funding, including funds available as a result of health care reform legislation?


Do you oppose Amendment 62, this year’s “definition of person” initiative, which would amend the Colorado Constitution to define “person,” granting constitutional rights to “every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being?”


Why does Larry Liston claim to be pro-life, but act like a friend of Planned Parenthood's?

While these actions by Larry Liston are both surprising and concerning, the kicker is the fundraiser that was recently hosted on his behalf by over 40 lobbyists. Several of these lobbyists work for incredibly liberal, pro-choice organizations including the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL. You can see the documentation and do the research yourself here. I was personally amazed to find that the Planned Parenthood consultant I debated on several occasions is fundraising for Larry Liston. Based on that alone, it is obvious to me that Liston is anything but truly pro-life.

It’s easy to see that Larry Liston is not truly a pro-life candidate, but what of Owen Hill, his primary opponent, who claims to be “fighting for genuine conservative reform”? Protecting Life is the very first issue that Hill lists on his Issues Page.  His position?

Indeed, abortion is a moral, social, and political evil. Our country was founded as a Republic where all are created equal, endowed by their Creator with the right to life.

No human being, whether male or female, aspires to have an abortion or be responsible for one. Rather, through a series of poor choices and unfortunate circumstances, unwanted pregnancies are a constant feature of the human story. We must recognize the difficulty of this situation and provide our support without creating another victim—without destroying another life.

The government can and should be in the business of creating better protections for all parties involved in an unwanted pregnancy: better medical information, required sonograms, and information on alternative solutions and resources.

It is imperative that we remove all taxpayer funding for abortions and stop subsidizing an industry that furthers the victimization of the members of our society who need the most protection.

I desire a policy that looks to the prevention of abortion as a wrong, and looks hopefully to the time when as a wrong it may come to an end.  [Emphasis mine.]

These are strong words, but what’s more, Hill backs up his words with firm action. Unlike Liston, he actually completed the pro-life candidate survey, happy to reveal his true views to voters. Hill received a “pro-life” assessment from Colorado Right to Life based on his answers. They scored him an 8 out of 9 and dubbed him “willing to dialogue” on the one question they disagree with him on.

Most notably, Hill serves on the Board of Directors for Life Network (a pro-life organization that runs two pregnancy centers, provides education to the public, and works with churches, among many other things). He told me:

One of the best experiences I have had in working to protect the sanctity of life is serving on the Board of Directory for Life Network in Colorado Springs.  This has brought me out of the public policy area to practical ways we can help those who most need it.

This is the kind of action pro-lifers should look for in political candidates. It’s one thing to claim you’re pro-life and quite another to actually do something about it. Many pro-lifers have made a pledge to vote only for pro-life candidates. You can sign a pledge to vote pro-life first here. After all, what good does it do the pro-life movement if our supporters elect politicians who support abortion? We should never choose to undermine our work through our votes.

Disclaimer: Live Action cannot endorse political candidates, and this article is not an endorsement of any candidate.

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