by Patrick J. Buchanan
Partial-birth abortion is a grisly and revolting procedure.
An unborn baby is brought halfway out of the birth canal, then has scissors rammed into its skull and its brains sucked out for easier passage. Sen. Pat Moynihan called it “infanticide.” Seventeen Senate Democrats defied the feminist fanatics to vote to outlaw it.
Now the Supreme Court, 5 to 4, agrees that outlawing this barbaric method of aborting an unborn child does not interfere with what has been for 34 years a woman’s constitutional right to rid herself of an unwanted child.
This is being hailed as a victory for President Bush and the pro-life community. And it is, though outlawing the procedure only means that if a woman, late in her pregnancy, wishes to be rid of her unborn baby, she and her abortionist now have to find a nicer way to kill it.
The partial-birth abortion ban is a little like the state outlawing the beheading of innocent people, while approving of their execution by more humane means. While the ban is most welcome, it remains but a limited victory for those who believe in the sanctity of all human life.
Politically, however, the court decision is portentous, and bad news for Democrats in 2008 – for several reasons.
As Robert Novak reports, a 2006 Fox News poll found that the nation, by 61 percent to 28 percent, favored outlawing partial-birth abortion. Yet not only did all the leading Democratic candidates for president vote to keep the horrific procedure legal, all denounced the Supreme Court for upholding the law that bans it. To pander to the social radicals who vote in Democratic primaries, Hillary, Barack Obama and John Edwards all paddled far outside the American mainstream.
Consider the latest poll in the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate.
According to Sunday’s New York Times, 23 percent of Americans want all abortions outlawed. Another 41 percent believe there should be greater restrictions on abortion. Thus, 64 percent of all Americans, almost two-thirds, feel abortion laws are too liberal already and want more restrictive laws.
Among young voters 18 to 29, 20 percent want abortion outlawed. Fifty percent want greater restrictions. Thus, 70 percent of young people want more protections for the unborn, while Hillary, Barack and Edwards all want none.
Look for Right to Life groups to run ads linking the Democratic nominee to this barbaric and now criminal procedure, which even the high court agrees can be treated as a felony, justifying two years in the penitentiary for any abortionist who performs it.
If the Democratic presidential nominee can be credibly portrayed – in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio or Pennsylvania – as seeking the return of this pagan practice, it could be decisive.
Also, the five-to-four decision, with Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority, indicates the “health of the mother” no longer trumps all other arguments in the debate. Even more crucial, it puts the Right to Life movement within one vote of overturning Roe.
While neither of the Bush II justices, John Roberts or Sam Alito, has specified whether he would vote to overturn Roe, most observers believe that, given the right case, they will drop Roe into the same dumpster with Dred Scott.
With Sandra Day O’Connor gone, the four-to-four liberal-conservative split on the court, with Kennedy as the decider, also means the composition of the court will again be a major issue in 2008.
And, again, this is to the advantage of the Republicans. For when the issue is framed as to whether voters prefer justices to be strict constructionists of the Constitution or liberal activists, Republicans win. Antonin Scalia gets you more votes than Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The court decision aids Republicans in another way. While the party is increasingly divided on Iraq, free trade and immigration, on the issue of new justices in the tradition of Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, there is unanimity. It was not the Democratic left but the Republican right that reunited to sink Harriet Miers.
The Republican candidate least served by the Supreme Court decision, though he welcomed it, is Giuliani. Until lately, Rudy has been 100 percent pro-choice on abortion, even opposing the ban on partial-birth.
While he is committed now to appointing Justices like Scalia, he will be hard pressed on whether he wishes to see Roe overturned and whether he would use tax dollars to fund abortion.
Moreover, as a pro-choice Catholic, Rudy faces possible censure by the hierarchy of his church, as did John Kerry. And this time, the indulgent Cardinal McCarrick is gone from Washington, and Cardinal Egan may be gone from New York by November 2008.
With last week’s decision, the Roberts court has put the life issue front and center in the politics of 2008, and it is hard to see how this is not bad news for the Democrats.
The only worse news would be for George Bush to get the chance to name a third justice – to fill one of the four liberal seats.
That would set the cat down among the pigeons.