The number one rule in politics should be: “The first person to mention rape loses.” We saw this play out in Missouri back in 2012, where Todd Akin blew a layup U.S. Senate race. And if Donald Trump has his way, we will see the same thing blow up Republicans’ chances at the White House in 2016.
Donald Trump recently called on the GOP to take the contradictory position of believing that abortion — the killing of an unborn child — is wrong, unless that child’s father was a criminal, which would somehow make abortion acceptable.
This is, of course, a mistake. Not only is the position wrong morally and ethically, it is also wrong politically and sets both Trump and the party up for failure.
I know, I know. Some would argue that public polling has shown that voters want an exception for rape and incest. But do you know what the public wants even more? To not have these issues as topics in the election. By calling on the GOP to include these exceptions, The Donald is making an unforced error, inadvertently throwing both the party and himself under the bus.
“But doesn’t adding these exceptions to the platform stop these from becoming an issue in the campaign?” you might ask.
Absolutely not. In fact, it’s like pouring gasoline on the fire. It will only reinforce the tired and false old tripe that Republicans have been waging a “war” on post-born women.
But worse, it’s contradictory in it’s very nature. By putting conditions on the right to life, you’re putting conditions on civil and human rights. Imagine the hypocrisy of putting exceptions to other human and civil rights abuses in America’s past. Only granting certain women the right to vote? Only allowing certain slaves to be free? I don’t believe in comparing injustices or evils, but I do believe that if abortion is what conservatives say it is — the killing of a pre-born child — then protecting the right to life falls into the category of human and civil rights.
If Trump wants a winning model to follow, he should look to Sen. Marco Rubio and how he handled the question:
Here’s the transcript:
MEGYN KELLY: You favor a rape and incest exception to abortion bans. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York just said yesterday those exceptions are preposterous. He said they discriminate against an entire class of human beings. If you believe that life begins at conception, as you say you do, how do you justify ending a life just because it begins violently, through no fault of the baby?
RUBIO: Well, Megyn, first of all, I’m not sure that that’s a correct assessment of my record. I would go on to add that I believe all —
KELLY: You don’t favor a rape and incest exception?
RUBIO: I have never said that. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass a law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.
And let me go further, I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws. Whether they can vote for not, whether they can speak or not, hire a lawyer or not, have a birth certificate or not, and I think that future generations of Americans will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live.
You win on abortion by talking about the heart of the issue, not by caving and retreating and making excuses. You attack your opponents for their extreme stances and for the immoral principles that they have decided to center their entire political party on — the ability for doctors to profit off of millions of poor (and wealthy) women who are afraid that they will not be able to provide the right life for their pre-born child.
Marco Rubio is right — all human life is sacred. And future generations will look back at proponents of abortion and call them barbarians for killing our pre-born children. They will also call proponents of exceptions hypocrites for protecting the life of some, but not all human beings.
Terry Schilling is the executive director of American Principles Project.