Bob Casey Jr. may owe his popularity to his late father, a Pennsylvania governor whose outspoken pro-life views earned him a gag order at his party's 1992 national convention. But heading into Election Day, the Democratic challenger to Republican Sen. Rick Santorum showed he did not also inherit his politics.
Casey's pro-life credentials first came into question when he supported the morning-after pill, which he argued is not an abortifacient. Now, bolstered by an indirect endorsement from Planned Parenthood, he has admitted that he favors expanding embryonic stem cell research. A Pittsburgh news service, KDKA, reported Casey's position, which contradicts his previous statements that he preferred to maintain current federal policy.
"I'm concerned that people aren't seeing exactly what's being said by Mr. Casey. He has flipped on some of his issues," said Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who called Santorum "a fierce advocate for social and moral issues."
Though some of Casey's views don't sit well with Planned Parenthood, the organization launched an effort to warn voters of Santorum's "scary agenda" and to "make sure that when voters go into the polling booth this fall, Rick Santorum's extreme words come back to haunt him." During the days before the election, Planned Parenthood took its anti-Santorum message door to door in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Santorum opposes both embryonic stem cell research and the morning-after pill and has earned high ratings from pro-life groups. As the third-ranking Senate Republican, he fought for the partial-birth abortion ban, voted for the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, and supported criminal penalties for those who kill a fetus during the commission of a violent crime. Santorum has also said he would back a constitutional amendment banning abortion, although he would rather leave the issue to state legislatures.
By contrast, Casey said he plans to focus on what unites the pro-life and pro-choice camps, so they can work together to decrease the number of abortions. Casey, who has advocated funding increases for Planned Parenthood and other family planning services as a way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, has tried to position himself as the moderate antidote to Santorum's Christian conservatism. Santorum, meanwhile, has accused Casey of avoiding the issues and being inconsistently pro-life. Both candidates are Catholic, and both say they believe Roe vs. Wade should be overturned, but Pennsylvania pro-life groups such as LifePAC are standing behind Santorum.