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The pro-life / pro-choice debate has long been a point of contention within American partisan politics. Simply put, democrats are pro-choice, republicans are pro-life, and the public votes along these lines. But this oversimplification is being tested now that a pro-choice Republican is running for president—and now stands as the Republican frontrunner.

Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, only two U.S. presidents have been Democrats, and nearly all of the Republican presidents have been pro-life. Furthermore, Republican administrations are responsible for 12 of the past 14 Supreme Court nominations. The issue was tested again in 1992 regarding the Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision, which overruled five provisions for abortions in the state of Pennsylvania. Abortion remains legal, despite the supremacy of pro-life administrations. But the debate persists as a key component of any candidate’s platform.

On Wednesday, Fred Thompson was officially endorsed for president by the National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest anti-abortion organization. He was touted as “the best candidate to beat Giuliani.” But does this matter? The coming election might test just how powerful a constituency the religious right is. The question remains, does the religious right have enough power to swing the entire primary in a more conservative direction?

A Giuliani nomination—horrifying as that may be—will stand out as a landmark for the Republican Party. Whether the religious right will endorse a third party candidate and (foolishly) split the Republican vote (handing victory to the Democrats) remains to be seen. But should they follow the Republican Party in supporting Giuliani, this might be an indicator that the religious reigns on American conservatives are loosening- or, if nothing else, that the pro-life debate is losing its sway.