The anti Anti-choice choice?

Speaking of single issue politics, From Burke to Kirk ponders an interesting question:

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


The thing I don't get about hating abortion while thinking it should be legal is that I can think of only one reason to hate it--you think the fetus is human.

If you believe the fetus is human, than how can you think it should be up to the individual to choose abortion? If you don't believe the fetus is human, then what about it do you hate?

tim maguire   ·  March 12, 2007 4:45 PM

Of course, if you're a federalist, you think criminal laws should be up to the states. I can't speak for Guiliani, but an important question for me is at what point the fetus becomes a human being. I think there has to be a brain, and I've never been able to see a fertilized egg as a human being, as it lacks the attributes. A seed is not a tree.

Where to draw the line is up to the states. At the time of the founding, abortion laws tended to permit abortion before the fetal "quickening":

Eric Scheie   ·  March 12, 2007 5:24 PM

I'm with Guliani on this line of thinking. I'm avidly pro-life (against legalized abortion) but I'd love to see a federal partial birth abortion ban get vetoed (or constitutionally overturned) on the basis that the federal gov't has no jurisdiction over what abortion laws states make.

Joe   ·  March 12, 2007 7:31 PM

Not to get all nit-picky about an excellent post, but that should be Arkansas, not Arizona.

The Unabrewer   ·  March 12, 2007 8:27 PM

Lincoln did not believe in slavery. He personally opposed it. I think it would be fair to say that he would never have been a slaveowner. Yet he ran for president of a country which had slavery, and slavery was enshrined in the Constitution.

miriam   ·  March 12, 2007 9:59 PM

For decades and then some this bit of inanity has been going on... and on... and on. I note that the 'middle ground' has been eaten up by the 'two sides', and having any other view on the SCOTUS decision and its effects for the States *must* fall into one camp or the other.

No third view between the 'absolutes'.

We do hold many things to be self-evident, indeed, but when working at things we must work to *make a more perfect Union*. Not absolutely perfect. Just "more perfect". The absolutists want none of that and to hell with the Union, it appears, as their morality trumps the Nation in all things forevermore.

So when the SCOTUS put something forth that a few at the time admitted was a poor decision, the actual attempt to *understand* what the decision was trying to DO was lost in what the effects were. Thus I come at it from that strange angle of what the SCOTUS was actually trying to tell us about the law, not about Rights or the Beginning of Life. No, I don't see it as *either* of those things, but, instead, what the Court presents us with is this concept of 'when does Citizenship begin?'

Approached from that angle and the Constitution, we come to the fact that the States are Sovereign for those born of Americans in their bounds. The Court has set a minimal time for protection of life. That time then defines when someone is a Citizen of the Union and fully protected by its laws. From that the State may set up all necessary Due Process to ensure that such life is protected, and even give a margin of leeway for the actual time from conception for that.

As the Consitution does not allow for the setting up of a way to get around Due Process and as Citizenship *defines* that, then the actual position of a fetus at that time, be it inside or outside a host or mother, should not and, indeed, cannot matter. The States could have pushed for *that* and then required proof of date of insemination backed by a physiological exam: there is responsibility to go with having a minor under one's care and the State has interest in ensuring that Citizens are not killed by negligence.

That would require couples to actually keep records of their sexual activity. If a woman needs an abortion, proof of that and the fetus being before the State set limit would do it. No records could be compensated for by three board certified doctors doing separate exams and writing conclusions. That should not take long at all. Hand those over at the clinic and all legal nicities are done with.

What this does is remove the 'pro-choice' folks from the playing field. The States put forth procreational responsibilty *first*.

The 'pro-life' folks now have a means to work hard at getting their point across: medical research and finding ways to sustain fetuses outside the womb. That would require a far greater knowledge about reproduction than we have NOW, because no one has been funding it. That would be a *boon* to mankind to help better understand gestational problems and the causes of many birth defects. Push that viable time ever downwards until it encompasses the entire process from insemination onwards.

But no one *wants* that way.

It does not require screaming, shouting and denounciation.

It requires personal responsibility and putting forth hard work into making the Nation and the world a better place.

So I wash my hands of both 'sides'.

You do not represent the whole of thought on the matter and I stake my ground next to the Consititution. The side that no one appears to have taken.

ajacksonian   ·  March 15, 2007 12:29 PM

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