Tennessee Right To Life’s political action committee gave incumbent state Rep. Tony Shipley a 100 percent grade on its 2012 scorecard but did not endorse him in his 2nd House District re-election bid.
Further from Hank Hayes:
TRL’s PAC, the pro-life group’s political action arm, endorsed no one in the Aug. 2 Republican primary race between GOP challenger Ben Mallicote and Shipley, R-Kingsport.
In an e-mail, TRL President Brian Harris said the lack of an endorsement should not be interpreted as opposing Shipley’s re-election but simply a position of neutrality.
Harris explained by pointing out a strategic priority for Planned Parenthood nationally has been mainstreaming the practice of dispensing RU-486 pills via telemedicine.
“Planned Parenthood’s intent is to make chemical abortions more available, especially in ‘underserved’ rural communities,” Harris said.
Last year, Shipley introduced a House resolution promoting the use of telemedicine in Tennessee. TRL, said Harris, expressed “profound concern” at the possibility Planned Parenthood would seize the opportunity to expand the prescription of RU-486 in rural areas of Tennessee.
Other lawmakers, including state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, attempted to amend Shipley’s resolution and “make clear the will of the legislature that such expansion of telemedicine in Tennessee should not include the dispensing of abortion pills,” according to Harris.
“Mr. Shipley strongly opposed the pro-life amendment as ‘unnecessary,’ ‘hostile’ and ‘grandstanding,’ ” Harris said. “Ultimately, Representative Hill introduced and passed a separate bill … which makes clear that, in Tennessee, chemical abortions may only be performed in the presence of a licensed physician.”
Mallicote, a former Kingsport alderman and vice mayor, said this about the TRL non-endorsement: “TRL’s comments about Representative Shipley exemplify why he has been an ineffective representative: Even on an issue that he claims is of foremost importance, his ego and inability to work with others prevented a common-sense amendment to the resolution.”
In response to TRL’s decision, Shipley said: “All I really care about is I got a 100 percent grade from them and the rest of it is just fluff, as far as I’m concerned.”
Instead, Shipley indicated he gives more credibility to support he gets from a separate group called Greater Kingsport Pro-Life Vo l u n t e e r s .
TRL’s Sullivan County chapter was disaffiliated in 2009 due to the group’s unwillingness to conduct its activities according to organization guidelines and Internal Revenue Service requirements for tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, according to Harris. The chapter had sided with Shipley in his successful 2008 race against former state Rep. Nathan Vaughn, a Kingsport Democrat.
Two years ago, the organization’s PAC endorsed Shipley for both the primary and general election based on his 100 percent voting record in the House and his 100 percent candidate survey.