March 12, 2007
The anti Anti-choice choice?
Would the election of a pro-abortion Republican as President of the U.S. set back the pro-life movement for a generation?I don't know. He's talking about Giuliani, and while I'm in no position to know whether the pro-life movement would be set back (as the National Catholic Register contends), I do think a threshold question might be whether Giuliani is in fact pro-abortion.
So far as I can tell, Giuliani has always said that he is personally, morally opposed to abortion, and I have seen no reason to doubt that. As to his legal position, Ann Althouse has looked at Giuliani's abortion position carefully, and finds it to be consistently federalist. Harvard law professor Michael C. Dorf also took a close look, and also concluded Giuliani was consistent on abortion (although he worries about how this squares with other issues). And law professor Stephen Bainbridge (who very much opposes legal abortion) nonetheless describes himself as leaning towards Giuliani.
But having a federalist position (that the states should be allowed to set their own laws), can that honestly be said to be pro-abortion? Remember that Roe v. Wade is predicated on a rejection of federalism, so Guiliani's legal position on abortion can be said to be fully consistent with overruling Roe v. Wade -- which he was on record as opposing as far back as 1989. Unless overruling Roe v. Wade is now considered "pro-abortion," this becomes confusing.
Again, what does "pro-abortion" mean?
Yesterday, I had a long conversation with a friend who has recently become a father, and he told me that the experience has made him unalterably opposed to abortion. The idea of destroying that tiny human life fills him with horror. (And it doesn't appeal to me either, although I tend towards the view that for a fetus to be considered human, there needs to be a brain.)
Anyway, my friend has zero sympathy for anyone who would kill a fetus. In fact, the way he was talking yesterday, I'd say he holds fetus killers in contempt. But he is still unwilling to put them in prison, and he said, "If they want to kill their babies, it's on them and they'll have to live with it."
Now, that would hardly strike me as pro-abortion. But considering that Giuliani has said repeatedly that he "hate[s] abortion," I don't see much difference between his position and that of my friend. And when I told my (non-activist) friend yesterday that according to the activists he was still "pro-abortion," he rolled his eyes. (Eyeball rolling is increasingly the reaction of ordinary people to activists -- which is probably why the latter would like to make eye-rolling a chargeable offense, as it seems to be in school.)
At CPAC (where else?) former Arkansas Governor Huckabee took on Giuliani, arguing that hating something you'd nonetheless allow is essentially a form of hypocrisy:
"Please don't count me among those who think that this is a peripheral issue, because I believe it's a defining issue in terms of how we view each other as human beings. . . . I'm a little troubled when I hear people say . . . 'I hate abortion, but I support the right for people to go ahead and do it.' Let me just tell you, it would be like a Hindu friend of mine saying that 'I really don't care for the slaughter of beef, but I'm going to buy a steak house.' Now, something is just irreconcilable in that very concept."Well, maybe it would be if Giuliani had said he was going to buy an abortion clinic. Did he? I think we would have heard about it if he had.
Of course, I should probably disclose that I'm a total hypocrite, because there are a lot of things I pay for even though I don't support them. For example, I don't care for the Saudis' Wahhabism or Hugo Chavez's Communism, but I finance both every time I fill my tank.
Hell, now that I think about it, I'd probably support allowing US companies to freely buy Saudi and Chavez oil, too.
Unless that makes me pro-Saudi and pro-Chavez, I think calling Rudy Giuliani "pro-abortion" is a bit too much of a rhetorical stretch.
Of course, I'm insane enough to believe that people can support the right to keep and bear arms even if they hate firearms and don't own any.
I'm such a hypocrite that I wholeheartedly support a war in which I'm not fighting.
(And as long as the world full is of armchair hypocrisy like mine, I suppose I should also support the right to keep and bear armchairs.)
MORE: I should probably stress that I think Giuliani could -- in much the same way as Schwarzenegger did in California -- win the presidential election overwhelmingly if only he could get past the activists in the primaries.
Fortunately for Schwarzenegger, he was able to do an end-run around the activists.
I'm hoping Giuliani will be popular enough that he'll be able to inspire ordinary people to vote in the primary elections, but that remains to be seen.
UPDATE: My mistake in calling Huckabee the former Arizona governor, and my thanks to The Unabrewer for the correction!
posted by Eric on 03.12.07 at 12:17 PM
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