Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. announced that after a lengthy political career during which he described himself as a “pro-life Democrat,” he now supports a woman’s right to choose abortion over birth. NBC News reported that Casey “came out Tuesday for a sweeping bill to codify abortion rights protection nationwide.” Casey said he will support the bill which would codify Roe v. Wade as the law of the land because “circumstances around the entire debate on abortion have changed.” Translation: My nominal pro-life position, which is useful in persuading the folks back in Scranton and other culturally conservative parts of Pennsylvania to vote for me, will no longer be rendered superficial and meaningless by the Supreme Court, which according to a leaked majority opinion, is poised to overturn Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. If Roe and Casey are overturned, being anti-abortion will have real-life consequences. It will save more babies’ lives.
The “Casey” in the latter case refers to former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey Sr., the senator’s late father, who signed a restrictive abortion law in Pennsylvania, portions of which were upheld by the Supreme Court. Gov. Casey was a champion of the anti-abortion movement who strongly, courageously, and publicly dissented from the Democratic Party’s modern embrace of the pro-abortion agenda. In 1992, in the lead-up to the Democratic political convention, Casey, then a sitting Democratic governor who had won reelection by more than a million votes, requested Democratic National Committee Chairman Ron Brown to permit him to make a speech at the convention. Casey’s letter made it clear that he wanted to deliver a strong pro-life message to the delegates. The DNC refused to let him speak. The Democratic Party was now firmly in the clutches of the pro-abortion movement. Bill Clinton, the party’s nominee for president, made it clear to pro-abortion groups that “You can count on me to continue to stand up for a woman’s right to choose,” and said further, “It’s awfully good news that Roe was upheld.”
Gov. Casey complained to Brown that “The platform draft … has the effect of placing the national party even more squarely within the abortion-on-demand camp. I believe this is a serious mistake for the party and would like the opportunity to present this point of view.” According to Casey in his autobiography Fighting for Life, Brown never responded to the letter. So Casey sent another similar letter addressed to Texas Gov. Ann Richards, but she also failed to respond.
Denied the ability to speak to the assembled Democratic delegates, Casey organized a bipartisan, full-page ad in the New York Times that stated, in part, “[I]n January 1973 … seven unelected justices performed the most momentous act of exclusion in our history: they deprived every human being, for the first nine months of his or her life, of the most fundamental human right of all–the right to life.” In Fighting for Life, Casey recalled that he was committed to expressing his “strong dissent based on the party’s historic commitment to protecting the powerless.”
A year later, Casey appeared on Charlie Rose and explained his position on abortion. “[M]y view of this issue,” he said, “is a very simple one and that is that my party, this country, has been the protector of the powerless from the days of Ellis Island and going beyond, back beyond Ellis Island. We’ve protected the powerless children, minorities, the handicapped, elderly people. There’s only one class in our human family that’s been rejected and said, ‘You have no rights,’ and that’s the unborn child.” Casey went on to explain that in his view, the “right to privacy” was “something created by the Supreme Court in 1973. It’s not in our Constitution. It’s not in any of our traditions or history.” Our tradition, Casey said further, was that an unborn baby “is a human person entitled of protection and somebody [who] destroys that person violates the law.” Roe v. Wade, Casey continued, “didn’t have the support of the language of our Constitution. It was inconsistent with American history and the American tradition.” Casey accused the Clinton White House of “arrogance, bordering on contempt towards anti-abortion Democrats,” and criticized Clinton for “acting to expand the abortion license.”
In 1993, Casey spoke at Notre Dame Law School. He criticized the “abortion lobby” and “pro-abortion forces” within the Democratic Party. He also called Roe v. Wade a decision that transformed a crime into a constitutional right.
Gov. Casey, a practicing Catholic all of his life, reportedly once said, “I didn’t get my pro-life belief from my religion class in a Catholic school, but from my biology and U.S. Constitution classes.” He would surely be appalled at the virulent anti-Catholicism that has recently raised its ugly head, as pro-abortion forces label the justices who reportedly favor overturning Roe and Casey, as “extremist Catholics,” and as those same pro-abortion forces threaten to deface Catholic churches and protest outside of the private homes of the “extremist Catholic” justices.
Sons do not, of course, have to share the political and cultural views of their fathers. But what perplexes some — including this writer who grew up a few blocks away from the Casey family in the Green Ridge section of Scranton, attended the same Catholic grade school as Sen. Casey, and played Little League baseball against him and his brother Chris — is that until this moment in history — with an opportunity to dramatically reduce the number of abortions in this country by overturning Roe — Sen. Casey appeared to share his father’s anti-abortion/pro-life stance. It appears that the apple, in this instance, has fallen far from the tree. Sen. Casey supports the codification in federal law of a practice — a procedure — that his father called a crime.