There are moments when a political party goes totally stupid. Like the Democrats on abortion.
It’s a tough issue. Having government involved in family issues is never good. But it also is sometimes tragically necessary — what to do when children are abused or abandoned, parents are irresponsible, or families are destructive?
And what to do when a mother wants to abort her child? Abortion involves another human being. So it can’t just be up to one person. That doesn’t mean government should intervene thoughtlessly. But any decision to terminate life should require a serious reason, one that could justify a dead baby as a result.
Alas, most Democratic candidates and activists believe in no restrictions, a position well beyond the views of even mainstream Democratic voters. This completes a long process of radicalization, during which the once large pro-life Democratic caucus in Congress dwindled to one, Henry Cuellar, who has been under constant attack by the “abortion now, abortion forever” lobby. This year, the Democratic Party put almost all of its eggs into the absolutist abortion basket, spending an incredible third of its ad budget on the issue. Yet Democrats apparently have lost on abortion along with the economy, crime, and education.
If voters faced a choice between a Republican who wanted to ban abortion without exception and a Democrat who believed in controls over mid-term abortions and beyond, the latter would win. However, that isn’t the current choice. Democratic activists want no restrictions, a position held only by a small minority of Americans. Voters are almost twice as likely to see Democrats as more extreme on the issue. When that position is combined with a woke campaign that threatens educational achievement and social life while also lacking a serious response to economic pain, the outcome isn’t likely to be positive.
Some Democrats have attempted to square the circle, perhaps none less satisfactorily than Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. “Abortion is an economic issue,” she declared on MSNBC. “Having children is why you’re worried about your price for gas, it’s why you’re concerned about how much food costs. For women, this is not a reductive issue.”
Digging her hole ever deeper, she contended that “You can’t divorce being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy from the economic realities of having a child.”
No doubt, having another child has financial consequences. Which is a strong argument for competent economic policies, not spending wildly, running up massive deficits, fueling inflation, cutting domestic energy production, and more. Democrats could also press the case for increased social assistance, though the problems and disincentives of the American welfare state have long been sadly evident. But these were not the approaches taken by Abrams.
Instead, she suggested that abortion was an answer to inflation. Just kill your baby, and you will spend less. Voila, problem “solved”! It is a brutal, even bizarre response, especially when adoption is an option. Her remedy also proves too much. If eliminating babies would help control personal expenses, eliminating unwanted children would be even more effective.
Birth is an important line, of course, but a baby is at most nine months away from what everyone acknowledges to be full personhood. The more fetal development, the closer abortion comes to infanticide. It is one thing to advocate abortion for compelling personal circumstances. It is quite another to do so to save money. This is the crudest sort of materialism, and it is being advanced by those most likely elsewhere to demand “people before profits.”
More importantly, at least for Democratic political candidates today, this cruel position is a political loser. Most Americans are uncomfortable with abortion and political extremes. They don’t like intrusive government involvement, but even less do they accept the claim that babies have no moral value and should be disposed of at will.
The American Spectator’s Ellie Gardey detailed:
Even Americans who do identify as pro-choice frequently have a certain queasiness over abortion or have significant moral qualms about it. In fact, the vast majority of Americans are opposed to abortion, at least in certain cases. According to a March 2022 Pew Research Center poll, only 19 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all instances. In other words, 81 percent of Americans are not on board with the abortion-on-demand messaging that the Democratic Party is blasting over the airwaves.
Oops. So much for that presumed winning election theme. More than a few Democratic strategists appear to recognize that they have blundered, but it’s too late for them to do anything other than lament their lost opportunities.
Abortion deserves a serious debate that recognizes the value of life, both before and after birth. It would be the right thing to do. And, even more importantly for Democrats in Washington, it would be the politically smart thing to do.
Doug Bandow is a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and is the author of The Politics of Plunder: Misgovernment in Washington. A graduate of Stanford Law School, he is a member of the California and Washington, D.C. bars.