Campaign Crawlers

Life and Death in California

What the defeat of Barbara Boxer would mean.

By 7.15.10

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Though the dominant media will never dare concede it, the coming November 2010 election could be about much more than the Republicans taking back Congress; indeed, this vital election could produce the "year of the pro-life woman." Such is the assertion of Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the excellent pro-life group, Susan B. Anthony List. Dannenfelser points to some major electoral showdowns pitting solidly pro-life Republican women against rabidly "pro-choice" Democratic incumbents. And if these pro-life women win, it may ultimately become the year of the unborn child.

Nowhere is the contrast starker than California, where pro-life Republican, Carly Fiorina, is set to challenge the Democratic incumbent, Senator Barbara Boxer.

To put it bluntly, Senator Boxer is fanatical on the abortion issue. Some day, when a more civilized America (hopefully) looks back in horror at the shameful abortion extremism of this era, perhaps similar to how we today shake our heads in disbelief over Dred Scott and Jim Crow, Barbara Boxer will be one of those names recognized for the moral ignominy of their position. Historians may well lead their accounts with an unforgettable episode from October 20, 1999, when Boxer squared off with her Senate colleague, Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum.

At issue was a form of legal infanticide technically known as "partial-birth abortion." In this "procedure," the unborn child is only partially delivered from his or her mother. Enough of the body is left inside the mother to ensure the child is not fully delivered, so a surgical instrument can be rammed inside the base of the skull, allowing the contents of the brain to be methodically sucked out. The procedure is so grim that the New York Times wouldn't run an ad representing it in mere cartoon form, the better to continue to shield the ugly truth from its progressive readership.

Naturally, pro-lifers -- and, really, reasonable people of any stripe -- wanted to ban this hideous form of infant killing. And quite unnaturally, Barbara Boxer was against a ban. And so, in October 1999, Senator Santorum took Senator Boxer to task. Almost facetiously, Santorum asked Boxer an absurd but necessary question: If, in the course of the abortion, the foot of the baby remained inside the mother -- while the rest of the child was outside -- "could that baby be killed?"

Perhaps, Santorum figured, he might trigger something, prompting the gentle-lady from California to revisit her position. But he didn't get very far. As Boxer groped for a semi-suitable defense, Santorum pushed ahead, adjusting his question from the vantage of the fetus's varying body parts, further revealing the hideous absurdity of Boxer's stance. Sensing she had nowhere to go, Boxer appealed not to reason but emotion, snapping at her colleague, "I am not answering these questions," and instructing Santorum that he was "losing his temper."

But the exchange was not a total waste. Not only had Santorum more than made his point -- not only for the politics of the moment but for posterity -- but he eventually got Boxer to give a direct answer, one destined to be highlighted in those aforementioned historical accounts someday. Reaching for some common ground, Santorum asked Boxer if she agreed with him that "once the child is born, separated from the mother, that that child is protected by the Constitution and cannot be killed?"

Ah, another ostensibly ridiculous question, but not in the mind of the California senator. "I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born," mused Boxer, "the baby belongs to your family and has rights."

Alas, here was an arresting definition of human rights, offered by a U.S. senator from the nation's largest state. Asked when a human has human rights, Barbara Boxer discerned a two-fold process: birth, followed by entrance into its family's home. We can thank the voters of California for this.

Tragically, this is only one of many such episodes in Boxer's career. (Click here for my April 2008 National Review piece, "Denial is a Senator from California.") No matter: Boxer's allies, particularly her acolytes in the abortion industry, want her returned to office badly. They are digging in for a death-match against Carly Fiorina this November, hastening back to the desiccated vineyards of the shadow of the Death Culture.

Even before the polls closed in California last month, clinching Fiorina's victory in the Republican primary, the toilers prepared to reap their next harvest, with Boxer herself clearing the field, responding as if -- indeed -- life and death were at stake. On the Tuesday of the primary vote, Boxer told the Los Angeles Times (one of the nation's most wretched newspapers when it comes to the abortion issue) that Fiorina "wants to make it [abortion] a crime, and that would mean women and doctors in jail. That is so out of touch with Californians."

Boxer's claim is an old red herring from the abortion lobby, and Fiorina didn't let her get away with it, replying, "That's a ridiculous statement." Fiorina added a fundamental truth: "I happen to believe in the sanctity of life, but the great majority of Californians disagree with Barbara Boxer, who believes that taxpayers should be funding partial-birth abortion."

Of course, California is a state where parents voted not to be informed of their teenage daughters' decisions to abort their grandchildren. So, Boxer may be closer to Californians than Fiorina on many of these life-death questions, which is scary. That's the culture that the likes of Boxer have helped create, which would make it all the more remarkable if the pro-life Fiorina managed to defeat Boxer in November.

And yet, that is a distinct possibility. Polls show that Boxer is more vulnerable than ever, and that the race is close.

Amid such desperation, Boxer's backers from the Death Culture wasted no time swooping down upon Fiorina.

Immediately after Fiorina's victory in the Republican primary, Stephanie Schriock, president of "Women for Boxer," a group working in partnership with the abortion-advocacy group, Emily's List, sent out a mass email seeking financial contributions to the senator's cause. The email stated:

Barbara Boxer's got her opponent -- and we've got our work cut out for us.

I'm on the ground in California right now, and I can tell you this: The energy among Barbara's supporters is awesome. But with the right-wing responding to Sarah Palin's rallying cry for the GOP's newly endorsed candidate, Carly Fiorina, the pace of this campaign is about to take off.

Fiorina's got the GOP establishment, the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, and the Tea Partiers in her corner. But Barbara has us. We must act now to show Barbara we're standing with her through the finish line….

Fiorina, the "new face of the pro-life movement," is already throwing punches. I can't say I'm shocked, though -- Fiorina was attacking Barbara even before she'd landed the party nomination.

The SBA [Susan B. Anthony] List has said flat-out that "[choice] will be an issue in the campaign without fail." I can't say I disagree with them there. Choice already is an issue in this race. And Senator Boxer has fiercely defended reproductive rights in the Senate, where she is a leading progressive champion. The contrast between her and Fiorina couldn't be starker….

Please make a contribution to Barbara Boxer today and send Fiorina a clear message: we'll be standing with Barbara through election day, and we're ready for a fight.

I don't have to tell you how badly we need Barbara in the Senate. When it comes to our issues -- from women's rights to the environment to health care -- Barbara has been at the forefront of change since we helped elect her in 1992, the "Year of the Woman." She's been there for us every step of the way, and now it's our chance to return the favor.

Thanks for all you're doing to help our women fight back and continue making change.

Now that's change these ladies can believe in.

Barbara Boxer's America is one of taxpayer-funded abortions, even partial-birth ones, from sea to shining sea, from the mountains to the prairies, from the Heartland to the South, from Hollywood to Manhattan. It's a lethal compact with the Culture of Death, and one that she and her handmaidens are not about to let slip through their clenched fists. To these women, too, like Senator Barbara Boxer, it's a bloodbath.

The California Senate seat is a matter of life and death. What will Californians choose?

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About the Author

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His latest book is 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative.