Botching the abortion debate
Some Republicans are finally attacking their opponents with the tenacity that’ll be necessary if they hope to defeat Barack Obama and the Democrats in November.
Only that opponent is not Obama or any other Democrat, but Republican Todd Akin.
The “quick and thunderous denunciation” (in the New York Times’ words) of Akin that came from parts of the GOP establishment after the Missouri Senate candidate’s off-hand and ill-considered remark about abortion and “legitimate rape” was understandable. But where is that same quick and thunderous denunciation of the radical positions on life pushed by Obama and the Democrats?
Akin has been labeled an embarrassment, an idiot, an imbecile and borderline insane—by people who would never use such language when talking about pro-abortion Democrats. There are abortion extremists running for office this year, but they are on the left and are running at the top of the Democratic ticket.
The proper Republican response to the Akin incident is to regret the congressman’s ineptness while vigorously confronting the social radicalism of today’s Democratic Party.
Obama supports abortion on demand, a position shared by less than one quarter of Americans. Obama, Vice President Biden and almost every other top Democrat see no problem with the use of abortion as birth control, and they defend partial-birth abortions in which babies in the final months of pregnancy are brutally aborted by puncturing their skulls. Gallup found recently that 86% of Americans believe those abortions should be illegal.
Obama supports not only third trimester abortions but also “fourth trimester” abortions, the killing of babies born alive after botched abortions. As a state senator in Illinois, he twice opposed legislation giving infants who survive abortion legal protection and medical assistance.
Liberal pundits often say that in their opposition to abortion, conservatives want to take the country back to the Middle Ages. But it’s Obama’s indifference to these “after-birth abortions” that harkens back to the infanticide that was prevalent during the Roman Empire.
The last four years have exposed the Democrats’ support for forcing Catholic institutions to pay for the abortion-inducing drugs of its employees and for forcing medical personnel who object to abortion to perform and assist in abortions.
Obama spends taxpayer funds to assist groups that help China coordinate its one child policy of forced abortion. And Biden has said he wouldn’t “second guess” why the Chinese government would forcibly abort its subjects.
And when a child is conceived through rape, many liberals support the death penalty—not for the brutal perpetrator but for the innocent unborn baby.
The Democratic Party could hardly embrace abortion any more strongly than it does. The Obama administration’s upper tiers are filled with abortion industry leaders.
About the only person lonelier than Todd Akin these days is the pro-life Democrat. The Democrats for Life issued a statement earlier this month after the DNC platform language was released. “The draft platform released yesterday is greatly weakened by its failure to recognize the party’s pro-life constituency,” it stated. Democrats for Life wanted its party to at least signal respect for “differing positions on issues of personal conscience.” As usual, the tolerant liberals refused.
As Democrats for Life pointed out in a press release, clear majorities of Democrats, according to various polls, support restrictions on abortions, including parental involvement in the abortion decisions of minors, partial-birth abortion, waiting periods, informed consent and opposition to sex-selective abortion.
In 2008, the Democratic National Convention omitted the word “rare” from its platform language specifying that abortion should “safe, legal and rare,” the formulation that Bill Clinton once rhetorically embraced. The 2012 platform will retain the 2008 language.
Democrats are now reportedly going to make abortion on demand and free birth control a centerpiece of their convention and the remainder of their campaign. Last week it was announced that Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Sandra Fluke, the reproductive rights activist who is campaigning for free (taxpayer-funded) contraception, will be prominent speakers at the DNC.
The Washington Post has reported that Obama has abandoned hope and change and is running as a “cultural warrior” as he tries to portray Republicans as radicals on abortion, gay marriage and other values issues.
Many Democrats and Republican appear oblivious to one of the most important social trends of the last decade: the shift in public opinion to the pro-life position. Half of Americans now identify as “pro-life” and even more see it as “morally wrong.” The pro-choice position has reached an all-time low of 41%, according to Gallup.
But all this is a distraction, according to many Republican consultants. “Every moment between now and November should be spent talking about the No. 1 issue for women and men, and that’s the economy,” Romney adviser Kerry Healey told the Times. “Anything that distracts from that is not what we should be talking about.”
Or as “conservative” Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker put it, “the cumulative effect of Republican actions aimed at limiting women’s access to abortion rather than seeking remedy through education poses an existential threat to the GOP.
I don’t disagree that the economy is and will remain the number one issue for most voters. But I couldn’t disagree more with the idea that values issues, and especially the pro-life position, hurt Republican candidates. And Parker’s assertion that the pro-life cause will destroy the GOP is nonsense. Abandoning the pro-life position would relegate the GOP to a footnote of history. That would be tragic given the Republican Party’s tradition of defending humanity, dating back to Abraham Lincoln.
Some Republicans may want to focus solely on the economy, but there’s only so much they can do to control the narrative. When social issues arise, Republicans can’t run and hide, and the media and the Democrats won’t let them. They need to address the issues on their own terms. And on abortion, it’s no more difficult than pointing out where the real extremists reside.