PRO-LIFE, NOT PRO-DRESTE: Is the Missouri Republican Party losing its backbone? No, says spokesman Daryl Duwe. In February, an executive committee of the state central committee called for the resignation of one of its own, Tim Dreste, whose anti-abortion crusade landed him a federal-court fine for his "threats" against abortion providers ("The Conviction of Tim Dreste," RFT, May 12). Duwe says Dreste's personal struggles against legalized abortion including leadership roles in radical anti-abortion groups such as the American Coalition of Life Activists have brought too much attention to the man rather than the party as a whole, and because the party doesn't condone the use of violence or threats anyway, it's time for him to go. Then, last week, the St. Louis County Republican Committee followed suit by censuring Dreste, which means he cannot serve on any committees, cannot serve in leadership roles and won't be recognized to speak on any issues. And Dreste was asked to resign, despite the threatened resignations of at least two other committee members.
Dreste, who was elected to both posts, says, "Of course I didn't resign," and he questions whether party members are bending to public pressure rather than their own ideology after heated protests by pro-choice groups, including the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. He adds that, despite the February judgment against him and 12 other activists, he has never acted violently toward anyone, including abortion providers.