Constituent 'Violated' by Durbin Change on Abortion

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

( - Sen. Richard Durbin will vote against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts in the Senate Judiciary Committee if Roberts disagrees with the Illinois Democrat's view that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to abortion. But that vote would directly contradict Durbin's beliefs as expressed in a 1989 letter to a constituent.

The recipient of that letter, Frank Tureskis, says he feels "violated" by Durbin's abandonment of the right-to-life position. He lived in Springfield, Ill., when Durbin was running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1981.

"I kind of feel violated because I worked for the sucker, and then he turns around and ... ," Tureskis told Cybercast News Service, his voice trailing off. "I would not have backed him at all -- if he had not been pro-life -- with the effort and money I contributed."

Durbin recently discussed his views on the "right to privacy" -- a phrase liberals use to refer to judicial sanction of abortion on demand -- and the Roberts nomination during the July 24 edition of NBC's "Meet the Press."

DURBIN: "And as I said, I'm not looking for a litmus test. As important as reproductive rights and women's rights are, I just basically want to know that if the next case involving privacy and personal freedom came up, 'What do you believe?'"

RUSSERT: "If he (Roberts) said he did not see a right of privacy in the Constitution, would that ... ?"

DURBIN: "I couldn't vote for him."

RUSSERT: "That would disqualify him?"

DURBIN: "It would disqualify him in my mind."

Tureskis described himself as "not a single-issue voter" but said pro-life issues are "very important" to him. He saved an Aug. 14, 1989, letter he received from then-Rep. Durbin in response to comments he sent Durbin about a recent court decision on abortion. Durbin's reply may surprise those only familiar with his pro-abortion Senate career.

"I believe we should end abortion on demand, and at every opportunity, I have translated this belief into votes in the House of Representatives. I am opposed to the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and will continue to support amendments to prohibit the funding of elective abortions for federal employees and Medicaid recipients," Durbin wrote, concluding: "I continue to believe the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade should be reversed." View letter in PDF format.

Tureskis also recalled Durbin speaking at the Little Flower Catholic Church in Springfield when he was running for office.

"He definitely said he was pro-life," Tureskis remembered. "He convinced us to the point that he was the speaker at our annual right-to-life rally."

Durbin acknowledged his contradictory position on the issue to Russert.

"I came to Congress not having seen what I think is the important part of this debate and not understanding, if you will, really what was behind it," Durbin claimed.

"And I finally came to the conclusion that we really have to try to honor the Roe vs. Wade thinking, that there are certain times in the life of a woman that she needs to make that decision with her doctor, with her family and with her conscience and that the government shouldn't be intruding," added Durbin.

The Illinois Democrat complained that pro-life advocates in Washington would not accept legalized abortion even in circumstances when Durbin believed it was justified.

"It's true that my position changed," Durbin admitted.

Tureskis recalled his efforts to help Durbin get elected to Congress with sadness.

"I worked my butt off to get him elected as a representative because I'm pro-life myself, and this is what he did to us," Tureskis told Cybercast News Service. "The way I see it, he just turned on us."

Make media inquiries or request an interview with Jeff Johnson.

Subscribe to the free daily E-Brief.

E-mail a comment or news tip to Jeff Johnson.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.

MRC Store