The emergence of Pat Buchanan in this year’s U.S. Republican Party Leadership race has a special significance for pro-lifers. By the sheer force of his views, Buchanan has brought the abortion issue front and centre.

Described as a rogue Republican, Buchanan is considered by some a serious threat to party unity. His success in the early primaries has befuddled many political observers, including some in the Republican Party.

The candidate’s surprising win over Robert Dole, Stephen Forbes and Lamar Alexander in the New Hampshire primary in February generated a huge response in the media, most of it assailing Buchanan for his views on abortion, gay rights, Israeli influence in U.S. affairs, immigration and economic protectionism.

In a scene reminiscent of his 1992 Republican leadership bid, Buchanan has been hit with almost every noun in the liberal bad-word book—from neo-fascist to homophobe to racist. The more tolerant of the anti-Buchanan crowd stop at extremist or demagogue.

Commentators on both sides of the border have now resorted to a steady drumbeat of Buchanan bashing. And of course, some have used Buchanan’s early success to trot out their favorite clichés against pro-lifers. Toronto Star columnist Michelle Landsberg attacked Buchanan for listing Randall Terry (“leader of the Operation Rescue anti-abortion thugs”) among his key supporters. Others have lumped his pro-life stand as an attack on women’s equality.

But it is clearly the abortion issue that has drawn the most scorn down on Buchanan’s unrepentant head. Buchanan has said that as president, he would outlaw abortion in all circumstances, and jail abortion-performing doctors. His stand has no doubt terrified the feminist-pro-abortion lobby which for more than 20 years has savored the results of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision.

Prior to the Arizona primary February 26, Buchanan reiterated his strong opposition to abortion. “The right to life is more important to me than the presidency of the United States,” he said at an Arizona Right to Life meeting. Buchanan finished third in Arizona and seems to be losing steam as the Republican nomination race drags on. His presence however, has given greater prominence to the abortion question in 1996. Some pollsters believe Buchanan’s pro-life views account for a large measure of his popularity.

Despite Buchanan’s rough edges, it is refreshing to see a national name take a clear stand on the abortion issue. Buchanan has been consistent in his defence of unborn children since emerging on the political scene in the Richard Nixon era. His position should be no surprise to anyone who has followed his career. But consistency in defence of the unborn invites attacks in today’s North America. Buchanan is delivering a message that many, particularly those in the mainstream media, don’t want to hear. And if you don’t like the message, the typical response is to attack the character and credibility of the messenger.

We won’t presume to evaluate the merits of Buchanan’s position on the economy, immigration, the military or foreign policy. But as a spokesman for the advancement of innocent unborn children, is there anyone else out there?