- Saturday, September 2, 2023

What Republicans do about abortion will decide the party’s future. What America does about abortion will decide our future.

When the issue was raised at the Republican debate last week, the candidates’ response was mostly uninspired. Some touted their record of signing pro-life legislation. But only two said they’d sign a federal ban on abortion, and one of them reluctantly.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum insisted that the 10th Amendment prohibits federal involvement.

So, after a century of benign neglect, now the amendment is to determine the fate of the unborn at the federal level?

The worst response was from former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, with her “can’t we all just agree” search for a mythical consensus. Mrs. Haley said, can’t we all agree that we should ban late-term abortions? And can’t we all agree “that doctors and nurses who don’t believe in abortion shouldn’t have to perform them”?

The problem is, we all don’t agree.

Pro-abortion forces, which control the Senate, won’t give an inch. They won’t ban late-term abortions. They won’t support a conscience provision for medical personnel. They won’t even require medical treatment for children born alive.

Moderator Martha McCallum started a question with “Abortion has been a losing issue for Republicans since the Dobbs decision.” Says who?

Pro-abortion referendums passed in six states thanks in large part to lopsided spending, much of it from billionaires like George Soros, whose Open Society Policy Center spent $4.5 million to pass the Michigan anti-life initiative.

If abortion is a losing issue for the GOP, why was every Republican governor who signed a pro-life measure — including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — easily reelected?

People are confused. They often take contradictory stands. But let’s say for the sake of argument that most support abortion with certain restrictions — unlike the Democratic Party, which supports abortion without any restrictions.

Popular confusion means we have to fight harder and do a better job of educating. The foundation of our republic is being eroded by the blood of as many as 1 million unborn children killed each year.

We’re more than a house divided. We’re divided over a matter of life and death.

It’s now 1860 in America.

The nation almost foundered over slavery. Like the choice crowd, those who supported slavery said the objects of the debate were nonentities — things without rights.

The decade leading up to Abraham Lincoln’s election was the bloodiest in our history in peacetime. Bleeding Kansas was a dress rehearsal for the Civil War. Across the nation, abolitionists were lynched. Their presses were smashed, and their houses were burned to the ground.

This was a forerunner of the wave of violence in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision — pregnancy resource centers fire-bombed, churches defaced, and pro-life protesters assaulted.

The Biden administration has become the enforcement arm of Planned Parenthood/NARAL. The FBI raided the home of a man who participated in a vigil at a Philadelphia abortion clinic. The father of seven was arrested in front of his family and led away in handcuffs. He was later acquitted in federal court.

States’ rights played a part in the slavery debate then and the abortion debate now.

Southerners wanted their slaves but didn’t much care about other states, except for those coming into the Union, like Kansas, that might tip the balance against them in Congress.

In essence, they were saying: If Massachusetts doesn’t want slavery, it doesn’t have to have it. (“If you’re against abortion, don’t have one.”) In South Carolina, we like it fine.

Republicans like Mrs. Haley and Mr. Burgum are also saying leave it up to the states.

But whether one person can deprive another of life shouldn’t be up to the states any more than whether one person can own another.

Morality trumps the 10th Amendment and states’ rights. A system of government can be decided by a piece of paper; good and evil cannot.

Some issues can’t be avoided or finessed. Some are more important than grubbing for votes.

Some go to the essence of who we are as a people and what we’re willing to tolerate for business as usual.

A people are defined by what they’re not willing to tolerate. The Children of Israel refused to condone the child sacrifice of the surrounding pagan cultures.

Pagans sacrificed their children to the gods of fertility and war. We sacrifice ours to the gods of gender equality and radical autonomy.

It all ends in death.

• Don Feder is a columnist with The Washington Times.

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