Thursday, October 18, 2012

Abortion and Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Races

One of Linda McMahon’s most insistent critics, Chris Powell of the Journal Inquirer, noted in a post-debate column that Mrs. McMahon’s view on abortion was … ahem … “more nuanced” than that of Chris Murphy.

The views of President Barack Obama on abortion are, if possible, more extreme than those of Mr. Murphy. There are no circumstances in which the president would disallow an abortion. As an Illinois state senator, Mr. Obama had fulsomely supported legislation permitting abortion on demand, which would include the kind of sex selection abortion practiced in China and – this may surprise pro-abortion proponents – abortions condemned by the early church fathers in the late Roman Empire. The paterfamilias of a family in Rome at the time St. Augustine of Hippo was fulminating against the practice held life and death powers over his children, born and unborn. While infanticide was rare, in the Clintonian sense, during the reign of the Caesars, a father could not be punished under Roman law for committing infanticide, most often involving female infants, by exposing the born infant to the elements. Abortions were more common. The president also has opposed the so called “born alive” bill, a measure that would have extended to infants born alive during botched abortions the same legal protections afforded born babies.

It was Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, no tea partier, who declined to vote in favor of partial birth abortion because he regarded the practice as a form of infanticide.

Polls show a drift of women into the Republican camp. They also show that women’s views on abortion are more moderate than those of Democratic Planned Parenthood pied pipers. A July 2011 Gallup Poll measuring the favorability of restrictions on abortion shows preferences for a law making partial birth abortion illegal during the last six months of a pregnancy (64-31%); a law requiring doctors to inform patients about risks prior to performing abortions (87-11%); a law requiring parental consent for abortion (71-21%); a law requiring a 24 hour waiting period before an abortion is performed (69-28%); and the poll shows a slim majority (50-46%) in favor of a law requiring those seeking abortion to be shown an ultrasound image of the fetus.   

Here in true blue Connecticut, as elsewhere in the nation, a long standing accommodation on the question of abortion had in the past tended to prevent unnecessary political abrasion between church and state. Such accommodation necessarily involves a resolve on the part of legislators to find a way to preserve religious rights guaranteed by the First Amendment – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” -- while preserving other rights. Any constitutionalist worth his salt knows very well that you cannot extend a constitutional right infinitely in any direction without abridging other rights.

When the resolve on the part of the state to accommodate religious prescriptions is missing, it seems reasonable to impute extremism to the legislator unwilling to make the necessary accommodations. This year, for the first time in its history, the national Democratic Party pushed abortion rights to extreme limits -- at the expense of orthodox Christians who understandably are concerned with the erosion of their first amendment rights to freely exercise their religion according to long accepted religious precepts.

The Obama campaign appears to be operating on the supposition that extremism in the service of the “virtue” of abortion will result in a harvest of votes from women. So far, recent polls show a severe drop-off of votes from women, perhaps because women are conscious of themselves as integrated personalities rather than ovary containers. Mr. Romney has cut the gender gap from 20 to 9 points. At the same time, Independents seem to be declaring their independence from a party that has more in common with Eugene Debs than Former President John Kennedy, who sounded in a speech he gave in 1962 to Economic Club of New York very much like a Chicago school economist not unfamiliar with Frederick Hayek’s masterful “The Constitution of Liberty,” a book published in 1960, one year before Mr. Kennedy assumed the presidency.

In Connecticut, Republicans have ceded to Democrats positions on social issues that are not supported by a majority of voters. Who convinced them that elections do not turn on such social issues as abortion, much more prevalent among African Americans than whites, or the integrity of the traditional family unit in urban areas, where fatherhood is a distant memory and young men who have not yet landed in prison search and find an aberrant form of social definition in murderous gangs? Although only 13 percent of American women are black, figures from the Centers for Disease Control show they account for 35 percent of the abortions. What accounts for the massive retreat from so called social issues on the part of Republicans?  And why do Republicans running for the U .S. Congress from the Northeast this year sound like larval progressives who cannot wait to march to Washington and protest their party’s positions – except on fiscal issues?


Anonymous said...

There is no real separation between social and fiscal issues. The only path to true fiscal independence for individuals, is via boosterism and support for the traditional nuclear family.

The two are inextricable and lead to each other, just as fatherless families and welfare dependency are inextricable and lead to each other.

The left already knows this and has made it an ugly unfashionable act for our side to give voice to the truth.

peter brush said...

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York
Moynihan is perhaps the archetypal moderate Democrat, or neo-con. He talked a good game. One of the earliest to connect welfare state apparatus to family destruction. But, on that score, as on many others, when it came time to vote (for reform in 1996) he said nyet. In regard to talking without the walking, see also that Liberal with Sanity, Mayor Koch. While libs complain about the Republican Party having shifted to the extreme right, a point not without some truth, the Dems have moved way to the left.
When liberals at the ‘72 Democratic National Convention—many of them McGovern delegates—tried to add a strong pro-choice plank to the party platform, the presidential nominee balked. McGovern’s first pick for vice president, Sen. Thomas Eagleton, was pro-life. So was his second, Sargent Shriver, after controversy forced Eagleton to bow out.

Shriver and Eagleton were the last openly pro-life candidates on a national Democratic ticket. Jimmy Carter had to mute his antiabortion sympathies; Al Gore and Joe Biden had to repudiate theirs. In his book The Party of Death, pro-life author Ramesh Ponnuru described McGovern as “not very pro-abortion.”

Yet McGovern did inadvertently play a key role in making the Democratic Party more accepting of abortion. He chaired a 1968 commission bearing his name that sought to “democratize” the process by which delegates to the party’s national convention were selected. The idea was to reduce the power of the party bosses and remaining urban political machines.

The local party bosses were replaced with effective quotas for women, minorities, and young people, who in some cases were able to supplant the old machines and create new ones. Whether this new process was more democratic was open to debate—quotas suggest the outcomes were at least partially ordained and the old machines at least answered to bigger, more representative constituencies than the ideological activists who supplanted them—but the practical impact was to dilute the power of Northeastern ethnics and Southern Protestants for the benefit of secularists and feminists.