writer Jim Wallis has until now remained strong on the idea
that nationalized health care should not force Americans to pay for
killing unborn children. But, as May push comes to July shove, Wallis's
liberal friends are giving him a "wedgie." Now, he seems to be
wavering. He says he hopes that abortion will not become a "wedge
issue," one that will prevent us from enacting a sweeping takeover of
the health care industry.
Let's unpack that wedge issue comment. It stems from the pens of
leftist thinkers like Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with
Kansas? To such minds, the right to life of one-third of a nation is
merely an annoyance, the death of millions of innocent unborn children
is a distraction from the real business of politics -- the
redistribution of wealth. Lenin said it before Frank and more
succinctly: Kto kovo -- who gets?
Abortion is not a wedge issue at all. It is a bridge issue between the
parties, between religious and ethnic groups. President Reagan
recognized that. He reached out -- successfully -- to Democrats,
Republicans, and independents.
Abortion was a major factor in Reagan winning the votes of 27 percent
of Democrats. The Reagan Democrats were the key to his astounding
political victories. For millions of Catholics and Evangelicals, the
party of their parents was the Democratic Party. Reagan echoed FDR's
"rendezvous with destiny" and let it be known he had voted for FDR four
Abortion was an important factor in Reagan's first landslide in 1980.
President Jimmy Carter's refusal to support federal funding of abortion
spurred the third-party challenge of Independent John Anderson.
Anderson's direct mail appeals to liberal lists pounded away at the
theme of extending full federal funding to abortion-on-demand. It was,
in fact, the only major policy difference he had with Carter.
Anderson's appeal fatally weakened Carter's campaign in several states.
Anderson's strong pro-abortion position enabled him to tip into the
Reagan column such states as Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware,
Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Vermont, and Wisconsin When Reagan
carried some states previously thought to be liberal bastions, the
effect was one of shock and awe. Reagan's powerful performance
contributed mightily to his success as an extraordinary politician. For
millions of blue-collar Democrats, Reagan's values were their values.
Reagan made a point of addressing major religious groups; he spoke to
the Southern Baptist Convention in 1980. This was President Carter's
own denomination. Reagan told this largest legislative gathering in the
world "you can't endorse me, but I can endorse you." The SBC messengers
got the message -- and cheered heartily.
As President, Reagan spoke of his opposition to abortion to the Knights
of Columbus in 1982 and the National Association of Evangelicals in
1983. He became the only sitting president to publish a book. In 1984,
he wrote: Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation. Reagan's historic
1984 landslide was certainly not about abortion alone.
For Reagan's most vocal opponents, abortion was key. Lawrence Lader,
the co-founder of NARAL, wrote: "Abortion is central to everything in
life and how we want to live it." This explains why advocates for the
government takeover of health care are so adamant about including
Harold Ickes, Jr. is well-known in liberal circles. He's been a
fund-raiser for his party and a key backer of Bill and Hillary Clinton
for decades. As long ago as 1988, he weighed in in his home state of
New York against then-Sen. Al Gore. This was Gore's first run for
President and arguably his best shot. Gore came into New York State
with 25 percent in the polls -- leading a crowded Democratic pack. But
Ickes was outraged by Gore's position against federal funding of
abortion. Ickes led a chorus of boos against Gore at a big meeting of
liberal donors. Gore's standing in the New York Democratic primary
plummeted. He won just 10 percent of the vote and limped out of the
Empire State. Gore's campaign collapsed and he turned around on federal
funding of abortion.
Why would Ickes' wealthy fellow liberals care so much about federal
funding for abortion? After all, New York State, led by then-Gov. Mario
Cuomo, would continue to pay for abortions. And Ickes' friends would
themselves never need a public subsidy in order to avail themselves of
With Ickes and his fellow travelers on abortion it is absolutely
essential that we cease calling it wrong. Federal funding for abortion
is the indispensable piece of the puzzle. They have had
abortion-on-demand -- what they always wanted -- ever since Roe. The
Supreme Court has only rarely failed to deliver on their radical
pro-abortion agenda.But it fell short in Harris v. McRae (1980) -- and
then only by the slenderest of margins, 5-4. In that important case,
the Court's majority said that the Hyde Amendment forbidding the use of
federal Medicaid funds for abortions was constitutional.
For men like Ickes denying federal funding impermissibly taints
abortion. There's something wrong with it if the federal government
cannot fully and generously pay for it. For them, 48 million abortions
are not enough.
Abraham Lincoln went to New York City 128 years before Al Gore went
there. He recognized that his opponents would not be satisfied with
holding their slaves in bondage, selling their slaves across state
lines, and even pursuing their runaway slaves into the free states. So
what else could Lincoln's adversaries want? "This, and this only," he
famously said at Cooper Union "[We must]: cease to call slavery wrong,
and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly --
done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated -- we
must place ourselves avowedly with them."
This is why Harold Ickes, Jr. and Barack Obama cannot yield on
Obama sincerely wants to end all the controversy over abortion. He
wants to end it by including abortion in his government takeover of
health care. Then, he hopes, we will have to cease calling it wrong.
Then, it will be officially designated as an indispensable and
indisputable part of a mandated federal benefits package.
Obama has never called abortion wrong. He says he wants to reduce
abortion -- when he's talking with the Pope -- but most of the time he
says he simply wants to reduce the need for abortion. To accomplish
this, he wants to open the floodgates of federal funding to Planned
Parenthood, the world's largest traffickers in abortion.
This is why Jim Wallis's position is so precarious. For liberal
activists, abortion-on-demand, fully funded, constitutionally
protected, and no longer called wrong is the sine qua non of any
national health care scheme. Jim Wallis will learn this to his sorrow.
(A special thanks to Robert Morrison of the Family Research Council for
assistance with this column.)
Source: The American Spectator
Date: July 29, 2009
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The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in
Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state
coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of
Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our
society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political
persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic
backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has
been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the
human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that
every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is
dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection
for the disabled and the elderly. Click here to learn more about the IFRL.