Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

wars -- and rumors of wars

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 11, 2005

"The stakes are enormous -- they could not be any higher for us," says Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice. We don't need to be told what she's talking about. From the Washington Post:

These liberal lobbyists [Ralph Neas, Nan Aron, Wade Henderson] are a triumvirate now leading the left into what they view as their biggest battle yet: to stop conservatives from replacing retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor with a justice firmly aligned with the right. After failing repeatedly in recent years to stop the advance of a conservative agenda by the Republican-controlled White House and Congress, a once-powerful liberal coalition is making what amounts to a last stand over control of the Supreme Court. ...

[The Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary] has converted a 2,500-square-foot conference hall into a campaign-style war room, complete with 40 workstations and scores of phone lines, that will be used to mobilize thousands of grass-roots supporters during the height of the coming confirmation battles.

The pretense that anything like a confirmation hearing will take place -- i.e., the normal constitutional procedure of nomination and confirmation by which the presidential prerogative is acknowledged and only grave defects of competence or integrity merit a contrary vote -- has obviously been abandoned. With the Democrats pushing and the media pulling, the Left has begun a preemptive campaign against any nominee who might strike down all or part of Roe v. Wade, and no one doubts that a judicial conservative will be assailed on all fronts, professional and personal. What will matter is not his real strengths or real weaknesses, but political success in marshaling public opinion against the nominee in some area that can stick.

As Nan Aron concedes, there's a sense in which the Left has more to lose in this battle than we do. Paradoxically, the Left is the victim of its own success, and that in two respects. First, the victory handed to pro-abortionists by Harry Blackmun in Roe v. Wade was so total and comprehensive that almost any change in the law is a defeat for them. As we have no place to go but up (legislatively), they have no place to go but down. Second, non-therapeutic abortion is a curiously constructed political beast. One can countenance this procedure only by categorically refusing to concede any "interest" to the unborn child distinct from that of its mother. Hence the Left backed the abortion horse two ways, by assimilating any and all reasons for abortion to health-of-the-mother reasons (so as to claim, when expedient, that all abortions are therapeutic abortions), and by denying any legal standing to the fetus up to the moment it is outside of and separated from its mother's body.

But the Left has painted itself into a corner. Tempted to compromise on abortion (say, to win a presidential election) by permitting third-trimester restrictions, they are vulnerable to the question, why restrict a surgical operation when the growth to be excised is more advanced? And the only answer is, because the growth is a growing human being. But, having conceded this, they are immediately vulnerable to the follow-up: if it's a growing human being, how can you permit killing it at all? Clearly the Left can't make even the slightest concession in that direction, which is why, in their "search for common ground," Hillary admits no abortion restrictions at all (she wants more contraception), and Frances Kissling can only speak in terms of "fetuses in utero that appear to be awake, asleep, walking, yawning -- engaging in activities that are related to human identity" (my emphasis). One false linguistic step and -- bingo! -- the ground beneath their feet vanishes.

Worse, the Democratic Party has repeatedly given red-throated endorsement to abortion on demand, and this is a path that, like one of those monkey traps, is easy to enter and impossible to exit. For the Party to bow to the pressure of political expedience and concede that voluntary abortion might in any circumstances be murder -- as even the slightest compromise on abortion restrictions would imply -- entails the admission that the same Party was an enthusiastic accomplice in such murders. Can't happen. Further, we shouldn't underestimate the psychological impact that rationalization of homicide has on turncoats like Ted Kennedy and Dick Gephardt who once opposed abortion on moral grounds. The heat with which they defend what they formerly condemned suggests that, like Lady Macbeth, they can never clean the blood from their hands entirely.

So what do you do when the "safe, legal, and rare" abortion meter has turned the 40 million mark and is still clicking over, yet the jurisprudence by which you sold the scam to the public is in danger -- even remote danger -- of toppling? Well, you get yourself a campaign-style war room, 40 workstations, scores of phone lines... And you lie like a trooper.

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