Sunday, May 15, 2011

GOP's abortion contradiction

     The bumper sticker plants a kisser right on certain ideologues' chrome.

     "Explain how you can be pro-war and pro-life."

      Yes. How to be flag-pin proud when "shock and awe" kills and terrorizes Iraqis young and old, then chain one's self to laboratory doors to prevent the disturbance of a frozen, discarded pre-embryo?

      Or, how can one care about the preborn, yet fight that which sensibly extends lives of the post-born, something like the Children's Health Insurance Program.

      These are contradictions no rational person can deny. Irrational persons are free to do so, however, and do so knowing it's the best way win a Republican primary of late. These are not conservatives in the libertarian mold of yore, but authoritarians who need government to do their bidding.

     No greater paradox exists in American politics than the party of "less government" seeking to force a woman with an unplanned pregnancy to grin and bear it. Right of privacy? Shut up and gestate.

    In the absence of that power, the "less government" party would, in Indiana with Gov. Mitch Daniels' signature, force a doctor to provide a state-prescribed explanation of the procedure based on ideologically skewed assumptions.

     In Texas, the "less government" party makes it law that women seeking abortion be told of a link to breast cancer, one that the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society call specious.

     Where have you gone, Barry Goldwater?

     Goldwater favored abortion rights. His reason was simple, and simply libertarian: Government has no business interfering in such a matter.

      Additionally, Goldwater also couldn't have been more contemptuous of the religious right, saying "religious factions will go on imposing their will on others." Those factions say that abortion is against God's laws. But writing laws that comport with Sunday sermons can get complicated.

     The Pew Research Center reports that 54 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Sadly, however, the anti-abortion minority monopolizes the discussion.

   Give most Americans a chance to explain why they don't want to ban abortion and you have a cogent argument. First is the issue of problematic pregnancy that threatens a woman's life and health. Second are those that result from rape and incest. Third are the desperate extremes to which women in crisis have gone before.

     "Pro-life" propagandists will say medical necessity and rape/incest are but distractions from the issue of "abortion on demand."

    Actually, no. The next time someone claims the "pro-life" label, ask if he or she would insist that a rape victim carry the assailant's child. If the answer is, "Well, no," ask how government would adjudicate the matter.

     Would a rape conviction be necessary for the state to allow the procedure? How quickly could a trial be assembled, as the rapist's spawn swells the victim's abdomen?

     How would government determine if an abortion was performed out of medical necessity? How would government determine that a spontaneous abortion — a miscarriage — wasn't "abortion by demand"? Obviously, the "less government party" wants a lot of government in dealing with this single issue.

     Lately, as in Indiana and various venues, the quest has been to defund Planned Parenthood. Interesting.     Though some Planned Parenthood affiliates perform abortion (in privately funded facilities in accordance with federal law), all Planned Parenthood affiliates perform services that prevent the need for abortions.

       What happened to the type of Republican who once said, "If family planning is anything, it is a public health matter"? 

    That was George H.W. Bush, long before the Bush brand was co-opted for political purposes by "conservatives" who would have given Barry Goldwater the bum's rush.

     Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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