Souls for sale

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 08, 2003

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a chilling account of Dick Gephardt's negotiations of his Faustian compact on abortion. Politics aside, watching a man offer his conscience as collateral to Mephistopheles makes painful reading.

As an adviser to leading Democratic politicians and an activist on women's issues, Joanne Symons helped Rep. Richard Gephardt negotiate the tricky political waters of switching positions on abortion in 1986 as he planned his first presidential campaign. Symons told him back then that liberal constituencies that flex their muscle in Democratic Party primaries would find it hard to swallow his anti-abortion stance. ...

Gephardt entered Congress as a passionate opponent of abortion, taking to the House floor shortly after moving into his office in 1977 to declare support for a Right-to-Life amendment to the Constitution. "Life is the division of human cells, a process which begins at conception," he asserted. By that spring, he had become a sponsor of legislation to ban spending federal funds on most abortions.

But in 1986, he met in St. Louis with Loretta Wagner and leaders of Missouri Citizens for Life to tell them he was defecting from their movement. Wagner recalls, "When the meeting was over, there was nothing more to talk about with him. Ever again. It was sad for him and it was sad for us, and everybody had tears in their eyes." ...

Explaining his earlier change in a speech to the National Abortion Rights Action League in January, Gephardt asserted that his "eyes were opened" on the abortion issue. "On any issue of conscience, every American must travel their own personal journey and reach their own certainty. At the beginning of my journey in public service, I didn't yet realize the full consequences of my beliefs," Gephardt told 1,500 activists gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision affirming the establishment of abortion rights under the Constitution.

It must be torture to realize that, unlike a sell-out on a matter of free trade or budget discipline, the coin in which abortion deals are paid is defenseless human lives. Wordsworth wrote somewhere, "In a course of criminal conduct every fresh step that we make appears a justification of the one that preceded it, it seems to bring again the moment of liberty and choice." There must be lots of such moments for Quislings. They need our prayers.

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