How Important is Abortion?

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When reading the title of this post, please keep in mind I am a pro-lifer.  I am not an earnest pro-lifer, in that I am like the vast majority of the American people and wouldrather not think about the subject much.  It’s a thorny one, and there’s a reason good talk-radio hosts and columnists avoid this issue.  Discussion of the matter tends to serve as a homing beacon for those inclined to throw agitated ad hominems at each other.

This morning, though, I was composing a response to a well known right-wing pundit’s recent epistle essentially describing the Mayor as a dissembling baby-killer.  As a person who ascribes a great deal of Giuliani’s electoral appeal to the mundane fact that he happens to agree with most voters on most issues, I was curious about how highly abortion ranked as an issue when open-ended polling is used to see what’s on our minds.

Take a look at this collectionof polls.  Pay special attention to the open-ended ones, where voters are not told to select their concerns from a pre-set range of issues.  The top two polls make my point.

Voters don’t care about abortion.

Now, I’m not trying to say supporting the rights of the unborn is not an important issue.  What I’m saying is that American voters pretty much have no problems with the status quo.  And you know what?  I bet if we ended up taking the more Federalist approach Mayor Giuliani favors, American voters would care even less.  Of course, such a minuscule amount of concern would be impossible to reliably poll.

So I am tempted to declare my comments an abortion-free zone.  Otherwise I am letting activists on both sides of the issue set the agenda.  It seems wiser to let the American people set the agenda.

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12 Responses to “How Important is Abortion?”

  1. Luther C. Hardy Says:

    Bravo Karlub!

    Apropos of your and my exchange the other day, I think you put your thoughts on this issue just as well as Divid Brooks put his. I am a laywer and a political theorist, so I tend to like my issues tied up neatly in constitutional theory and federalism, a la Clarence Thomas, but your views, just as you express them, are far more pertinent to real-world politicals and real-world concerns. Bravo again!

  2. Calvin Says:

    “I bet if we ended up taking the more Federalist approach Mayor Giuliani favors, American voters would care even less.”

    Correct – which is why those of us who still value the GOP’s humanitarian side simply cannot let a moral failure like Giuliani to sink the party and the country deeper. Over a million deaths annually should never be a back-burner issue.

  3. karlub - PA RudyBlogger Says:

    Calvin:

    As I said in the beginning of this post, please remember I am pro-life as well. If you are interested in reducing the slaughter of fetuses, then, I humbly recommend you refrain from hurling insults at your allies. Disagreement is delightful and productive. Combative petulance is a way to shut down discussion with people less charitable than myself.

    The point is this: A Federalist approach like Giuliani advocates would lead to less abortions. Because it would be impossible for states to individually *allow* abortion to be more available than it is now. How many abortions will the partial birth decision prevent? Hardly any. Yet I imagine you applaud that decision. because it is a move towards the culture of life. Giuliani’s approach is the most politically feasible way to reduce abortions. It also has the added benefit of actually being consistent with the Consititution of the United States.

    Furthermore, who better to shepherd in a regime where abortion actually becomes rarer than a president who cannot be viewed by the media and blue-state voters as a pro-life extremist?

    As for whether or not this should be a “back-burner” issue, no amount of ventilating by you and me is going to change the fact that it is a back-burner issue. Thus the wisest course of action if you actually want to reduce abortions is to support a candidate like Rudolph Giuliani. Not a person like Randall Terry. Or for that matter a Sam Brownback, who went out of his way to say during the debate that he would be happy to support Giuliani were he the nominee.

    Remember, he reduced abortion and increased adoption in New York City. This was not a fluke, as this pattern dissappeared soon after his successor took over.

  4. Calvin Says:

    “I humbly recommend you refrain from hurling insults at your allies. Disagreement is delightful and productive. Combative petulance is a way to shut down discussion with people less charitable than myself.”

    I’ll be nicer to Giuliani just as soon as he stops demagoging pro-lifers as wanting to throw pregnant women in jail. Shouldn’t HE refrain from hurling insults at people he expects to be his allies? If you’re a pro-lifer, doesn’t it bother you that your own candidate says something so contemptuous about you? Doesn’t it raise any red flags about what he really thinks?

    For one thing, Giuliani has done nothing to suggest he’s being sincere. The ONLY thing he had to offer humanitarian voters is the promise of strict constructionists, but when he said his kind of judge could just as easily uphold Roe, he exposed that he hasn’t the foggiest clue what strict constructionism actually means. Plus, has Giuliani repudiated his praise for Ruth Ginsburg? http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/99864.aspx

    All I see in his rhetoric is empty pandering. Any outsider who listens to, say, 5 minutes of Sean Hannity would know that conservatives like to hear the words “constructionist,” “Scalia,” “Alito,” etc. Coupled with his insincerity (Rich Lowry absolutely nailed it: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MWQ2MjY0MmQ0ODE0ZTY3ZjNjMDBhYmQxN2FmYjUwYzU, and nobody who truly “hates” abortion would give a dime to Planned Parenthood), there’s no reason to believe he believes a word he says. Peppering speeches with buzzwords—even good buzzwords—does not a federalist make.

    “It also has the added benefit of actually being consistent with the Consititution of the United States.”

    No matter what Rudy says, using stare decisis to uphold Roe is most certainly not consistent with our Constitution.

    “Furthermore, who better to shepherd in a regime where abortion actually becomes rarer than a president who cannot be viewed by the media and blue-state voters as a pro-life extremist?”

    I was under the impression that part of leadership was not letting others define you. Silly me. For too long, our party has used media hostility as a scapegoat for their own inaction. Besides, no matter the position—war, taxes, you name it—the MSM will always frame it in the worst possible light.
    “As for whether or not this should be a “back-burner” issue, no amount of ventilating by you and me is going to change the fact that it is a back-burner issue.”

    Not overnight, but what is leadership, if not drawing the people’s attention to a long-neglected national crises? We’re not electing America’s “follower.” All these years, Republicans could have been doing so much more—challenging their opponents to explain when life begins, highlighting the latest ultrasound technology, pointing out the sheer obscenity of making a tree more precious than a human baby, and more. Presidents do more than appoint judges—they use their bully pulpit to articulate important messages for the American people, they can pressure lawmakers to prioritize the right to life. And come on—if we nominate a pro-abortion politician as our standard bearer, we are granting legitimacy to the pro-abortion position. Do you really mean to suggest such a move somehow wouldn’t give the abortion lobby a boost?

  5. Karlub - PA RudyBlogger Says:

    I had a limited e-mail exchange with Rich Lowry about that piece, as a matter of fact, and it is what inspired me to write that post to begin with. Funny, that.

    First: I agree he could trot out the bogeyman of putting women in jail less often, but you show remarkable confidence in the restraint of government if you think pro-life statutes on a state level would not be used for this purpose, perhaps as tools to punish women for actions which are not actually illegal. The danger is real, and Giuliani is rightly wary of it.

    Second: If strict constructionism were as simple as you describe Scalia and Thomas would always concur. They don’t. So Giuliani is correct to allow for the possibility that Roe would not be overturned outright. In fact, it is just as likely an entirely different decision would “overturn” Roe de facto without overturning it explicitly.

    Third: His Federalist agenda is consistent with multiple issues, so it seems obvious it is more than a pose.

    Fourth: As an advocate for the unborn in my own way, it seems obvious to me the most politically viable way to put an end to national abortion on demand is precisely through a Federalist approach. Giuliani is the only candidate saying this in either party. This is why I feel pro-life voters should not only reluctantly tolerate Giuliani, but actively support him. That is, of course, assuming that reducing abortions is their main goal. If hectoring apostates is more fun, they can have at it.

    Finally: If you, Calvin, would much rather support an explicitly pro-life candidate in the primary, Mayor Giuliani is the first man who would acknowledge he is not your candidate. I would wager there isn’t a GOP voter left who is unaware of this. The continued kvetching in the pundocracy is– I think– not an attempt to let people know for the thousandth time that Mayor Giuliani is not a pro-life iconoclast. It seems to me nothing more than petulance from those frustrated that Hizzoner remains the frontrunner despite the fact that voters already know this.

    So ends my last explicit political posting about abortion. I am done with it. If it must be addressed further on this blog, I hope my compatriots will come to my aid.

  6. Calvin Says:

    Yes, it must be addressed further. This nomination is a crossroads for conservatism & the GOP, a struggle for its soul.

    First: I have to say, it’s mind-boggling to me how such an expression of disdain could be dismissed as merely something to be “trotted out less often,” rather than something to be offended at, something that offers us a window into the real man beneath the surface. And I’m not overconfident in government restraint; I simply understand that any law banning abortion could be easily written to limit punishment to “doktors,” and that ANY law can be said to start a “slippery slope” (and punishment for legal actions ought to be a non-issue, due to the Constitution’s explicit prohibition on ex post facto laws). None of that mitigates the severity of the offense committed against the unborn. Is such a danger real? Not as long as the vast majority of pro-lifers simply keep being who we are: steadfast against abortion but compassionate for those whom NARAL, the Dems & Rudy are trying to feed the forbidden apple.

    Second: I understand that constitutional law can be tricky business, and I never suggested there was some general how-to-vote-Right playbook that covers every issue. I am saying, however, that Roe v. Wade is one specific issue on which there need not be ambiguity. Legal scholars who favor legal abortion as a matter of public policy and yet consider Roe a constitutional travesty are fairly common. Its underlying rationale, “privacy,” has been thoroughly debunked. As a “federalist,” Rudy ought to be OPENLY appalled at Roe simply because it usurps the rightful authority of individual states to set abortion policy. But all he gave us when asked at the debate is “eh, whatever.” That’s one of reasons I don’t think his federalism rhetoric is anything more than a pose.

    The other reason is what I alluded to earlier: stare decisis. A true strict constructionist, a true judicial originalist, would NEVER give a bad ruling legitimacy for such a superficial reason as its age, or simply the number of times past Courts have reaffirmed it. I cannot imagine our Founding Fathers would have smiled upon the idea that upholding the Constitution’s actual meaning would have a statute of limitations.

    Third: “The most politically viable way to put an end to national abortion on demand is precisely through a Federalist approach. Giuliani is the only candidate saying this in either party.” That’s funny, I could’ve sworn he said abortion is “a decision between a woman, her doctor, her family, and her God.” Maybe my TV reception is bad.

    Come on: Rudy Giuliani’s hasn’t exactly been crusading to reduce the number of abortions in America; his explicit position is that abortion should be available. Are any of you familiar with his remarks to the NARAL “Champions of Choice” luncheon?

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/rwg/html/2001b/champlunch.html

    “We are upholding a distinguished tradition that began in our city starting with the work of Margaret Sanger and the movement for reproductive freedom that began in the early decades of the 20th century.”

    Does that sound like somebody who “hates” abortion? What about donating repeatedly to Planned Parenthood? And sorry, but the “only ‘cuz they use resources for adoption” line is total BS.

    http://www.lifenews.com/nat3104.html

    And the guys at FactCheck make a pretty convincing case that the Rudy camp is spinning the NYC adoptions angle into something dramatically more flattering than it really is.

    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/levitating_numbers.html

    Finally: the biggest thing that bothers me about the Rudy crowd is this: all the arguments I hear for voting for Giuliani might be compelling in the general election. But we’re not in the general. The VERY PURPOSE of a primary ought to be to find the man who can best advance as many of the principles we want. It is NOT to roll over for whoever the poll numbers dictate. But with all due respect, it is outrageous that people like you are asking us to throw the right to life overboard this early in the game. (By the way, it’s not just the right to life: a couple months back I linked to quite a few of Rudy’s left-wing stances in this post, and my blog is peppered with other reasons a Giuliani candidacy would be awful:
    http://rightcal.blogspot.com/2007/03/ann-coulter-cpac-and-republican.html)

    Abortion isn’t about politics; it’s about a national crisis of basic good and evil. Bottom line: Rudy Giuliani believes that some people have a fundamental right to have other people—defenseless, innocent people—executed. Our Party ought to be better, more compassionate, more principled than such a cold, savage and ugly belief.

  7. Karlub - PA RudyBlogger Says:

    Well, here’s my first test for dancing around a subject I will no longer explicitly name.

    I want to elect a man president who pretty much everyone agrees midwifed the greatest real-life example of conservative political leadership in the 20th century besides Reagan.

    If there are those who really think a Giuliani presidency would be worse than other GOP options on particular social issues, they of course must vote for someone else in the primary. The fact remains, though, the avenue for redress on these issues is a Federalist approach, not poking half of all American voters in the eye, so Giuliani’s opponets are mistaken.

    Again, they are not potentially mistaken on matters of principle. They are gravely mistaken on matters of political efficacy. So much so I feel their favored candidates– who have records of conservative leadership that pale in comparison to the Mayor’s– would ultimately lead to presidencies that are less effective in furthering their goals.

    And that is leaving aside, of course, the simple matter of who is electable in the general and who is not. So the argument that Giuliani supporters are getting ahead of themselves by appealing to his electability is specious. Without a victory in a general election the fantasies about various GOP administrations will remain in the pages of alternative history books.

    Also, please do not accuse me of throwing any issues “overboard”. That type of rhetoric is unhelpful, and untrue. I have never done any such thing, nor does the Giuliani campaign. Furthermore, language demonizing those with whom you disagree is a good way to chase away those you should be trying to pursuade. You refuse to acknowledge people of good will can disagree on strategy. This is juvenile political posing. Some sort of holier than thou race to an immanetized eschcaton. Is this a mere political concern, perhaps? Sure. But the last time I checked the key to politics was moving policy in a direction amenable to your goals.

    Believe me. I’ve voted for Harry Brown and Andre Marou for president. I know all about approaching things with ideological iconoclasm, and I know the value associated with that attitude. So please, Calvin, at least be charitiable enough to acknowlege the pragmatic value of those sincerely interested in actually achieving the goals for which you so passionately advocate.

  8. Calvin Says:

    Since most of the specific challenges in my remarks—challenges which go directly to the honesty and character of the man we’re asked to make our leader—remain unaddressed, I’ll simply suggest that readers read them again, and ask if they square with the JoinRudy line, save one observation. Compare my remarks to the following:

    “There’s a reason good talk-radio hosts and columnists avoid this issue [of abortion],” suggesting that those who make fighting evil a priority are irresponsible & unprofessional.

    The immediate observation that the alternative to a Rudy Giuliani must be “a person like Randall Terry.”

    The halfhearted criticism of Giuliani’s REAL demagoguery—that pro-lifers want to toss women in jail—which is apparently OK, since it could happen.

    “That is, of course, assuming that reducing abortions is their main goal. If hectoring apostates is more fun, they can have at it.”

    And, of course, the glaring oddity that “unhelpful” language is apparently more objectionable than believing the law ought to allow some people to execute other people.

    Ladies & gentlemen, I humbly remind you: “Language demonizing those with whom you disagree is a good way to chase away those you should be trying to pursuade.”

  9. Karlub - PA RudyBlogger Says:

    Well, Calvin, I’ll let people who read both of our blogs decide which one of us is more civil.

    It’s funny, though, to read someone disparage Giuliani as insincere since he is not the candidate who transparently changes his views on major issues multiple times, all the while saying this time he’s made up his mind for keepsies.

  10. Calvin Says:

    Hey, I’m just sayin’ practice what you preach.

    Putting aside the Alan Colmes-worthy swipe against Mitt Romney (my candidate, true, but I’d also support any non-Rudy candidate – even McCain), I note that several serious questions about “Hizzonor’s” character still stand unchallenged (cue Jeopardy music)…

    I remain utterly unconvinced, and committed to standing up to Rudy Giuliani with everything I have. I pray that the (currently-uncontested) information I’ve presented will resonate with some of Bloggers4Rudy’s more open-minded readers, and on that note, allow me to offer some more reading material:

    http://rightcal.blogspot.com/2007/04/terror-warrior.html
    http://rightcal.blogspot.com/2007/05/latest-on-rudy.html
    http://rightcal.blogspot.com/2007/03/party-of-values.html

  11. Calvin Says:

    Couldn’t resist another that caught my eye:

    http://kevinmccullough.townhall.com/g/4a36556a-e6e9-4f26-8a36-f023fe992aed

  12. Calvin Says:

    Ooh – it just gets worse:

    http://www.humanevents.com/rightangle/index.php?id=22591&title=more_dirt_from_a_confidential_source_on_

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