On politicians who become serious pro-lifers

Here’s the latest clip of Fred Thompson on YouTube. He sent this video greeting to the National Right to Life Convention:

Fellow pro-lifers, don’t dismiss any candidate solely because he was once wishy-washy on life … or was even pro-abortion.
I too was once in favor of abortion rights, back when I didn’t think about issues nearly as much as I simply emoted about them. After I graduated from college, some intelligent and persuasive pro-lifers confronted my ignorance in a friendly way, offering lots of facts and logic, and I realized that I had been wrong all along.
Since then I’ve become an amateur pro-life apologist by reading voraciously, hosting debates, volunteering with local pro-life organizations, sitting on the board of a crisis pregnancy center, studying for an M.A. in Bioethics while simultaneously earning my law degree, publishing a pro-life legal note against embryonic stem cell research, and blogging here on bioethics.
Yet I once supported abortion rights. Does that make me a flip-flopper? According to some narrow definitions I’ve been hearing lately the answer is yes (good discussions here and here and here). That’s ridiculous. The mere fact that I’ve had a change of mind and heart doesn’t justify the flip-flopper label. I’ve given money to, volunteered for, and argued on behalf of the pro-life movement since my switch. If I had done nothing (or worse, if I’d switched back to being pro-abortion to gain some kind of advantage or benefit like Dennis Kucinich did) then I’d be vulnerable to charges of flip-floppery or a lack of seriousness.
Fred Thompson used to be mushy on abortion. He doesn’t deny it. I suspect that his former stance came from his strong federalist tendencies and a lack of serious reflection on whether the unborn is actually a person like us in every morally relevant way. Since those days, Fred’s voting record in the Senate and his public writings and speeches have been solidly pro-life. The man gives every indication that he now believes human beings have a right to life from the moment of conception, and that the federal courts overstep their authority when they support a constitutional “right” to abortion.
Becoming a serious pro-lifer is a good thing. We pro-lifers know this because we try to persuade as many people we can to join us, and we heap praise on those who do. I understand the emotional appeal of feeling suspicious every time we hear a politician claim to be on our side. Resist the urge to emote; think instead. Look at the declared pro-life politician’s record before you dismiss him out of hand. Some of them really are on our side.