A fourth letter came from a Long Island priest, Monsignor James Lisante, who served for 11 years as a diocesan prolife director and hosts a nationally syndicated cable show primarily devoted to the abortion issue. Lisante wrote that D'Amato--who's appeared several times on the show--once vowed that he ''would never change'' on the issue, leading the monsignor to conclude D'Amato had taken the ''politically incorrect stance of owning the title pro-life.''
Lisante once helped organize a 2000-person march against a women's center that was performing menstrual extractions, a suction procedure for women with menstrual problems that also terminates a pregnancy. Lisante equated the procedure with abortion, which the center explicitly said it did not perform. The center bowed to the protest, suspending the procedure.
Helen Westover, a Right to Life leader and director of the mid-Hudson STOPP (Stop Planned Parenthood), told the Voice that she questioned Lisante about his support for D'Amato and that Lisante defended it by citing a conversation he and the senator recently had. ''If I win the line this time,'' D'Amato promised Lisante, ''I will give your party anything it wants in the future.'' Lisante did not directly confirm the conversation, but told the Voice that D'Amato said he'd been ''hurt'' by his first-ever challenge within the party and that, if he were reelected, he ''would be more sensitive to the party's point of view on any international funding that supports abortion and on the naming of proabortion judges.''
Tom Drolesky, the Right to Life candidate who ran against D'Amato and got 37 percent of the primary vote, focused his attack on D'Amato's support for prochoice appointees to the Supreme Court and prochoice candidates on the statewide GOP ticket.
Ray Diem, the Suffolk County Right to Life leader who backed Drolesky, told the Voice that D'Amato called him September 16 and asked: ''Now that the primary is over, could we work together towards the general election in the fall?'' Diem claimed the senator said that if Diem supported him, D'Amato would ''live up to any and all commitments he made at the May convention and we could hold him to it.'' D'Amato pledged at the convention ''to pay a lot more attention to Right to Life issues,'' according to Diem.