Jewish World Review Feb. 23, 2005 / 14 Adar I 5765

Paul Greenberg

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Dems for life? | Get this: The Democrats are thinking of running a couple of pro-life candidates for the U. S. Senate, one in Pennsylvania and the other in Rhode Island.

What a switch: There was a time when someone who was pro-life — someone like Pennsylvania's late governor, the sainted Bob Casey — wasn't even allowed to speak at the Democratic National Convention. Heaven forbid, he might have changed some minds. Can't have that. Free speech has its limits.

As you can well imagine, the pro-abortion faction of the Democratic Party, which used to be the Democratic Party for all political intents and purposes, isn't at all happy these days.

But the Democrats' own Senatorial Campaign Committee can feel the way the political wind is blowing — the way a cat can hear you coming up the walk. And the committee is flirting with the idea of running Bob Casey's popular son and namesake, Robert Casey Jr., in next year's Senate race against Republican Rick Santorum. Like father, like son: This era's Robert Casey, who's now Pennsylvania's state treasurer, is pro-life, too. And, like his father, he could be a winner.

Hopeful as this news may be for Democrats who'd like to pick up a Senate seat in the Keystone State, the prospect is anathema to those like Kate Michelman, past president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Ms. Michelman sounds like she's about to pitch a hissy over this revoltin' development. For the Democrats to nominate pro-life candidates, she says, would mean the party is abandoning its "core values." Abortion is now a core value?

Well, why not? There was a time when John C. Calhoun and the master class in general thought slavery was a core value of the Democratic Party, and the George Wallaces and Strom Thurmonds thought racial segregation was. But the party grew beyond the Dred Scott decision, and, in another age, the Southern Manifesto. Why not rise above Roe v. Wade, too?

Now some leading Democrats realize that their party needs to change. Adapt or die and all that. Result: The Democrats could be competitive in Pennsylvania's next Senate race. And Rhode Island's. That state's pro-abortion Republican senator, Lincoln Chafee, could be upset by a pro-life Democratic congressman, James Langevin.

Political parties may change, but principles don't. Pro-life voters just might follow their conscience wherever it leads, even into the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, still another euphemism has appeared to describe the pro-abortion position. Have you noticed? Pro-Choice seems to be fading in favor of Abortion Rights, as in the opening words of this story from The Washington Post: "Abortion-rights advocates are fuming over reports that some key Democrats are backing antiabortion candidates in at least two senate races. . . ."

When a political philosophy has to keep changing its name, you know it's in trouble. Pro-Choice, Abortion Rights, what next — Reproductive Rights? It's as if these folks were searching for a slogan that would disguise what they're advocating: abortion on demand.

The pro-abortion side of this issue even denies it is pro-abortion. It's only pro-choice. It just wants to give people the choice of aborting their children/babies/unborn/fetus/embryo/blastocyst/microscopic glob of cells of no use except for stem cell research/whatever.

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But no matter how you put it, the reality of what is being described/evaded keeps intruding, like the evidence of a bloody crime.

Think about it: People who favor legalized gambling don't insist on being called pro-choice instead of pro-gambling. Maybe because they're not as queasy about what they favor.

We on the other side of this issue have a secret ally in not just the hearts but the minds of our adversaries. How long can they continue to blink away the basic facts of life, of embryology? And of etymology — the meaning of words.

Here's my theory: This evasiveness in language is a sign that those who resort to it aren't comfortable with what they're advocating in reality. That's why they have to call it something else. In a way it speaks well of them; they have a conscience they must lull. Maybe one of these days they'll face up to what they've been rationalizing . . . and stop rationalizing it.

That'll be a great day. When it arrives, there'll be a new respect for life in this country. And the solitary courage and steadfast faith over the years of the Bob Caseys, father and son, will be something for a political party to seek, not shun.

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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