Over the past week the Republican National Convention has done more to highlight the horror of abortion than any major party convention in history.
In addition to the appearance of Nick Sandmann — the pro-life teen excoriated by the media for having the audacity to show up to the March for Life, wear a Trump hat, and smile — the convention included a stirring speech from pro-life activist and former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson.
Johnson described in vivid detail the evils of the abortion industry: their anti-black, eugenic roots; abortion quotas; the rooms in clinics “where infant corpses are pieced back together to ensure nothing remains in the mothers’ wombs.”
If it wasn’t clear already, the Trump team has made their fight against the horrors of the abortion industry a central message of their campaign. But still some “pro-life” NeverTrumpers are upset.
Over the weekend, prominent libertarian blogger David French sent out a newsletter attempting to justify, on pro-life grounds, his efforts to oust the President.
The pro-life movement, he argued, should actually be indifferent to whether or not the president supports abortion — it doesn’t really matter either way. This would normally not be noteworthy — another NeverTrump takester making another bizarre claim. But certain elements on the right have promoted the piece as an “important perspective,” so perhaps it’s worth taking a closer look.
The article certainly captures some of the well-founded pro-life disenchantment with the federal government and historical Republican leadership. It outlines, more or less accurately, some of the decades-long history of political disappointments pro-lifers have suffered at the national level.
Pro-life victories in Congress have been few and far between. Planned Parenthood continues to be federally funded. In the judicial branch, there is no shortage of Republican-appointed judges who have betrayed the pro-life cause.
Yet from this French somehow concludes that what the pro-life movement really needs is even less federal influence. Specifically, we should stop caring who appoints federal judges, oversees executive branch actions on our issue, and chooses which laws to sign and which to veto.
What motivates this conclusion is not hard to discern — you-know-who is President. But the argument is still baffling to read — essentially, “we haven’t won the fight, so let’s surrender.”
French points out that much pro-life lawmaking happens at the state level. But he knows that this only makes Trump’s judicial appointments even more crucial.
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Pro-life state laws get struck down by the courts all the time, and Roe severely limits the kinds of laws states can implement in the first place. The next President is likely to appoint the successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He may replace Breyer, Alito, and (God forbid) Thomas as well. But no, French insists. The Supreme Court (he makes no mention of any courts lower) is essentially unimportant.
Because Roberts struck down Louisiana’s pro-life regulations. It’s certainly a subtle argument, you’ve got to give him that.
And surely David French knows that by continuing to defund abortion federally, as this administration has worked to do, Trump is saving lives. Surely French can’t think that abortion is an exception to the common-sense maxim that subsidizing something gets you more of it than you’d have otherwise.
In fact, he cites evidence to the contrary. One study he cites shows that the Hyde Amendment, which Biden would remove, saves 50,000 children from slaughter each year.
Another he points to shows that overturning Roe would cut the abortion rate by 12.8%. But he cites this figure, oddly, as a point in his favor — 12.8% for David French is a figure not worth getting out of bed for in the morning, or at least not worth making it to the voting booth.
But let’s come down from the world of wonkish abstraction for a moment: 862,320 abortions were performed in 2017. It doesn’t take a Harvard grad to crunch the numbers; a 12.8% reduction would mean 110,376 saved from slaughter every single year.
FACTS: Overturning Roe vs Wade would save 110,376 lives a year, or nearly half a million over one Presidential term.
What would the number have to be to convince Mr. French that Supreme Court appointments are of real moral concern?
He is right to say that overturning Roe, on its own, will not end the fight, but his conclusions are absurd. We have not done enough! screams French, before turning around to argue that we do even less. We have not won yet in federal politics — so let’s pack up and go home.
It’s sad, really. Many prominent NeverTrumpers used to have real moral clarity on this issue. They were, or seemed to be, really motivated by principle.
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Take this quote from French back in 2012:
In May I wrote a much-discussed post that ended with a simple question for our newest generation of “post-partisan” Christians: “As the price for your new path, are you willing to forego any effective voice at all for unborn children?” The next president is likely to select no less than two Supreme Court justices. Your vote can help determine whether we have a fighting chance at overturning a constitutional atrocity or whether you secure the right to kill yet another generation of unborn Americans. The lines are crystal clear. Where will you stand?
The change is typical of many others — Jonathan Last, Bill Kristol, etc — their principles gave way to factionalism. And where have the greatest pro-life letdowns of the past four years come from?
Were it not for a NeverTrump Republican in the Senate, Planned Parenthood would in fact, be federally defunded. Were it not for a NeverTrump president’s judicial appointee, Louisiana’s abortion law would be intact.
And yet Trump is to blame?
Mr. French rightly recognizes that ending the evil of abortion requires much from us. He calls upon pro-lifers, rightly, to do more with their time and resources to assist the life-saving work of crisis pregnancy centers in their area. But he shrinks from doing the bare minimum to keep pro-life advocates in the White House, and instead eagerly seeks their removal.
Votes have consequences, even life-or-death consequences. They are of real moral weight. Pro-lifers cannot shirk their responsibility.
At the convention, Abby Johnson described her experience witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion: “Nothing prepared me for what I saw on the screen: an unborn baby, fighting back, desperate to move away from the suction. And I’ll never forget what the doctor said next: ‘Beam me up, Scotty.’ The last thing I saw was a spine, twirling around in the mother’s womb before succumbing to the force of the suction.”
The Trump-Pence administration has fought ceaselessly to end this barbaric regime once and for all, while the Biden-Harris ticket offers the most radically pro-abortion agenda in history. Come January 2021, one of these two will be in the White House.
The lines are crystal clear. Where will you stand?