For GOP, Pro-Life Base Trumps Polls on Schiavo; Politics Appear to Be Involved in Congressional Involvement

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Byline: Ralph Z. Hallow, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Republicans ignored polls showing public disapproval of congressional involvement in the Terri Schiavo case and instead acted on behalf of their party's pro-life base.

"It is political, but everything in Washington is political to some degree," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said of the successful move by congressional Republicans, with President Bush's support, to let federal courts review the case.

Pro-life groups have rallied around the case of Mrs. Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman whose husband and parents have clashed over whether she should continue to be sustained through a feeding tube.

Congressional involvement in the Schiavo case was opposed by about 70 percent of the 501 adults surveyed Sunday in an ABC News poll, and 63 percent agreed with a judge's order that Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube should be removed.

Despite those numbers, Republicans say single-issue, pro-life voters outnumber pro-choice voters by about 2-to-1 - one possible reason, they say, that 47 House Democrats sided with the president in the vote early Monday morning.

"It appeals to the religious right, the pro-life movement, evangelical Christians, and that probably accounts for a lot of Democratic votes, depending on whether their districts have significant evangelical populations," said former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, a conservative Republican and former federal prosecutor.

Mr. Perkins warned that "House members who led the opposition [to the Schiavo bill] could well be remembered for their blind allegiance to a far-left agenda that says oppose anything that smacks of protecting life. …