February 2, 2001
by Luis Acle
Every time Republicans prepare to select a candidate for a national office, liberal Democrats lick their chops with malignant satisfaction, eager to prove that the GOP has painted itself into a corner. It happens when the GOP platform is discussed or when the President is selecting a member of the cabinet or choosing a nominee for the High Court.
Just as soon as George W. Bush announced his choice for Attorney General, liberal democrats mischaracterized (again) the position of the Republican Party. Not only did they ruffle all the feathers, maligned both wings, they also asserted that the abortion issue will define the GOP (again). Maybe Republicans are partly to blame for not discussing this difficult subject more openly, thoughtfully and objectively.
Speaking as a rank-and-file Republican, let me start by offering a more objective framework for this debate. The categories of "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are inadequate and misleading: they are not mutually exclusive and they are self-serving, to say the least.
More appropriate categories are required, even if only for analysis. It seems to me that politicians, non-government organizations and the large majority of American voters fall into one of two categories. They want to encourage abortions; or else they want to discourage them, in both cases, some more intensely than others.
With few exceptions (with which I will deal later) most of us have struggled with questions of morality, religion and compassion and have then come to a conclusion that is very personal and a matter of conscience. Both sides of this debate need to accept that the American voters are entitled to their opinions, especially with regard to such personal matters. At the end of this very private struggle, most people fall into either of these two categories, those who want there to be more abortions and those who want fewer.
A useful analogy is the continental divide, the infinitesimal line that determines whether a drop of rain will eventually reach the Atlantic or the Pacific Oceans, with the tremendous variance in force and velocity on their trajectories. Such is the variety of commitment and intensity in this debate, with the extremes on both sides bordering on positions unacceptable to the body politic as a whole, and even fellow sympathizers.
What becomes apparent from these categories is that, within the group of the "pro-choicers", there are many who, while emphasizing their respect for the freedom of choice for every woman, even if it is to abort, do so without joy. Most want a woman to have a real choice and would not fault her for bringing the pregnancy to completion.
What liberal Democrats have gotten away with is the manipulation of the continental divide of the abortion debate. They paint the bulk of Republicans as unreasonable (denying women a choice) while they label themselves pro-choice, as long as that choice is an abortion.
The fact is that women do have a choice. Democrats and Republicans generally have different biases with regard to the result of that choice. Liberal democrats go through the motions of a free choice, often rigged to ensure their preferred outcome; e.g., a woman should make this decision only with her (abortionist) doctor. Some Republicans are so intense as to want to rig it their way by prohibiting all abortions.
But it is both unfair and unrealistic to conclude that the biases of pro-life Republicans will inter interfere with their constitutional duty to uphold the law, just as it would be unreasonable to presume that Liberal Democrat policy makers would deny a woman the choice to bring her pregnancy to completion and give birth.
Now, an anecdote before returning to the group left out in the earlier paragraph. I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Linus Pauling, twice Nobel Laureate, in Chemistry, then Peace Price winner, mostly remembered for his theory that Vitamin C in substantial doses helps prevent the common cold. No one has proved or disproved his theory, that I know.
Suppose that during one of the many hearings where he testified, it had been shown that Pauling was the sole producer of his recommended Vitamin C and that its increased consumption would make him very wealthy. Wouldn't it have been proper to cast some doubt as to the objectivity of his claims given his obvious self-interest?
Should we not have that same skepticism about the abortion industry, which, by the way, includes lobbyist, PACs, administrators of Government contracts (since the bulk of the abortions are paid with public funds) and, consequently, politicians who receive funds? Don't we realize that providing abortions is lucrative for them and shouldn't we take it into account when assessing objectivity and credibility of their campaign?
Abortion is a business. Folks in this business are in it to make money, maximize their profits and declare higher dividends. Executives receive bonuses when the number of abortions increases; so do lobbyist, and their contributions to their favorite politicians also increase. They certainly have a reason to want to encourage abortions and part of their marketing strategy is to "keep abortions legal", translation: keep them funded.
Now, back to the litmus test. Do you feel elated when you find out that a friend or acquaintance had an abortion? Do you know many people who do? Even when there is ample justification (no judgement implied) don't you instead have compassion for a woman who had an abortion, knowing that she will forever carry that burden? And do you think any of the prospective running mates of George W. Bush is any different from you, regardless of whether the abortion lobby labels them as "pro-choice" or "abortion criminalizers"? With proper categorization, you can be sure that so-called pro-choice Republicans are no more elated either.
The bottom line is that Republicans as a Party are respectful of the individual rights of every person, women in particular, pregnant or not. Liberal Democrats may challenge my credentials as a Republican spokesperson, but you certainly do not speak for the GOP.
Luis Acle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.