by Patrick J. Buchanan – January 19, 1998
How does the party justify raising money from right-to-life folks and then using their dollars to elect candidates who support third-trimester abortions? How do Republicans now answer the press taunt: “You denounce Clinton for his stand on partial-birth abortions, but you yourselves fund governors and senators who hold the identical position…
In the history of the Republican Party, last weekend will stand as a defining moment.
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the GOP decried partial-birth abortion as “heinous” but voted down a resolution to cut off funding to candidates who endorse the procedure.
Infanticide is awful, you see, but it must not be permitted to disrupt party unity. Killing a baby halfway out of the birth canal by ramming scissors into its head and sucking out its brain is evil, but supporting it does not disqualify you from our endorsement.
The Big Tent comes before a baby’s right not to be butchered.
Tim Lambert, the Texas national committeeman who offered the resolution, hoped to dramatize his party’s difference with Bill Clinton on an issue where 80 percent of the nation agrees with the GOP. By a Republican National Committee vote of 114-43, his resolution was rejected and replaced by a restatement of the party commitment to “banning this heinous procedure from America forever.”
Can Republicans not see the rank hypocrisy? What they have said is: We are revolted by partial-birth abortion; we have voted in Congress to banish it from the land; we intend to assault Bill Clinton for approving of such a gruesome act. But don’t expect us to go so far as to hurt our chances for ’98. We’re not extremists!
Excuse me, but if partial-birth abortion is truly a “heinous” act, the grisly killing of a baby at birth, is it not as wrong for Republicans to endorse the act as for Bill Clinton? Or is there one standard for Clinton but another for good Republicans?
Following the logic of last weekend’s vote, if Clinton continued his support for this act of infanticide but decided to switch his party registration, he would qualify for GOP funding.
How does the party justify raising money from right-to-life folks and then using their dollars to elect candidates who support third-trimester abortions? How do Republicans now answer the press taunt: “You denounce Clinton for his stand on partial-birth abortions, but you yourselves fund governors and senators who hold the identical position. Aren’t you just using this emotional issue as a stick to beat the president?”
If Clinton’s support for the procedure is a disqualification for the presidency of the United States, why is not Christie Whitman’s support a disqualification for the governorship of New Jersey?
Last November, New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith put his career on the line and helped derail fast track, and even U.S. funding for the International Monetary Fund and United Nations, rather than accept a foreign aid bill that did not outlaw use of tax dollars to advocate abortions overseas. Now Smith’s party has voted to use its own dollars to elect candidates who approve of abortion, indeed infanticide, in his own country.
“Sometimes party loyalty asks too much,” John F. Kennedy said. Apparently not for the GOP. Today in 17 states, partial-birth abortion is a criminal act. Even in Roe vs. Wade, which struck down the Texas abortion statutes, that part of the law that made partial-birth abortion a felony was left untouched. As Jerry Filteau writes in the Arlington, Va., Catholic Herald, the Supreme Court “did not address the constitutionality of killing a child that was partially delivered.
“The first footnote in the court’s Roe vs. Wade decision cites the five articles of the Texas Penal Code attacked by the plaintiffs in the case: Articles 1191-1994 and 1196.. … the footnote goes on to say, ‘Article 1195, not attacked here, reads:
“‘Art. 1195. Destroying unborn child … Whoever shall during the parturition of the mother destroy the vitality or life in a child in a state of being born and before actual birth, which child would otherwise have been born alive, shall be confined in the penitentiary for life or for not less than five years.’”
That law stands. And the GOP just voted to continue funding candidates who support a form of killing that is punishable by life in prison in Texas and jail time in 17 states!
The principal argument against Lambert’s resolution was that it imposed a litmus test on Republicans. Yet, in the fall of 1966, Richard Nixon refused to endorse any Republican who belonged to the John Birch Society. I cannot recall press or party outrage at this litmus test. When David Duke won the GOP nomination for state representative and then governor of Louisiana, the Republican Party went through acrobatic contortions to dissociate itself from him.
Obviously, there are positions that are incompatible with being a good Republican. Supporting the killing of a baby at birth is just not one of them. That is what the party said in Palm Springs.