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Jewish World Review August 21, 2000 / 20 Menachem-Av, 5760

Don Feder

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Human life in the name of the exercise of human rights

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- SPEAKING at Notre Dame in 1995, the late Bob Casey, two-term Pennsylvania governor, sadly disclosed: "For me, it is the bitterest of ironies that abortion on demand ... found a home in the National Democratic Party. My party, the party of the weak, the party of the powerless."

A "home"? Make that a bastion impervious to assault, a position as hardened as a missile silo.

Which is not to say that the party of Jefferson ("life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness") is sleepwalking. Democratic leaders have read the polls the media generally downplay -- prompting them to reassure voters that they really aren't abortion extremists.

On the eve of the GOP convention, a New York Times/CBS News poll showed that Republicans (often castigated for being out of step with the nation's social temperament) are much closer to the electorate than their rivals.

While 40 percent of delegates said abortion should be limited to rape, incest and threats to the mother's life, 37 percent of the public took this generally pro-life position (compared to 26 percent who said abortion should be available on demand).

The public is profoundly uneasy about the taking of human life in the name of the exercise of human rights.

The American Enterprise Institute polled Americans on whether 17 of this century's most important innovations have made life better or worse. Only four drew more of a negative than positive response -- including nuclear weapons and legalized abortion (the latter was rejected by 42 percent to 34 percent).

Ultrasound has made the unborn child visible. Partial-birth abortion has brought home the horror. Infanticide and euthanasia have shown us the morgue at the end of the tunnel.

And so, while appeasing feminists (one of their core constituiencies), the Democrats tried to soft-pedal abortion in their platform. There were the usual reality-avoidance cliches -- "right of every woman to choose," "intensely personal decisions." In over 300 words, the word "abortion" appeared twice.

The platform defensively notes that the abortion rate is falling (but not enough to save one in four babies conceived in this country).

It then resorted to a ploy positively Clintonesque in the scope of its hypocrisy. While we're passionately pro-choice, we will graciously accept the votes of those who dissent, the party admitted. And, unlike those Republicans who won't even acknowledge the other side in their platform, the "party of inclusion" (us) has spread out a welcome mat for all to see.

Apparantely, Robin Williams isn't the party's only comedian. At its 1992 convention, the party of inclusion wouldn't let Casey within a country mile of the podium for fear that (in The New York Times' words) "his sour note on abortion would disturb the symphony of unity."

Both New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman and then-Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld brought their pro-abortion message to delegates at the 1996 GOP convention. Whitman and Weld didn't speak in Philadelphia, but neither did Henry Hyde or any other prominent pro-lifer.

Last Tuesday, it was pro-choices ladies' night in Los Angeles. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg spoke glowingly of "reproductive choices." Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Kate Michelman (head of the National Abortion Rights Action League) and Kristina Kiehl (co-founder of Voters for Choice) devoted their entire speeches to a defense of the indefensible.

Then there's the Democrat's national ticket -- a Roe vs. Wade Baptist and a (supposedly -- editor's addition) Orthodox Jew who's cast 67 pro-abortion votes in the Senate .

Other than a few border-state congressmen who are hidden away in the attic every four years, there are no pro-life voices left in the Democratic Party. There's no one to tell them, as Casey did: "In a way, all of the talk about values misses the point. (Joe Lieberman take note.)

Because we are talking about a thing of infinite value. Human life cannot be measured. ... The value of everything else is weighed against it. The abortion debate is not about how we shall live, but who shall live."

The party of the "weak" and "powerless" has become the party with a weak heart and a guilty conscience. As the public becomes more sensitive to the plight of the unborn, Democrats become more inflexible.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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