Friday, June 19, 2009

Why political parties should be proudly pro-life

Hadley Arkes writes that in a recent speech Newt Gingrich seems to be trying to distance the Republican Party from the abortion issue.

"Newt has made it clear that when it comes to leading the Republicans back, their appeal to the broad electorate should not mention [the] vexing [issue] of abortion," says Arkes. "The lesson that Newt is now imparting [is] that these issues, in the scale of things, are just not all that important."

But this strategy seems mistaken in two ways: (1) as a political matter, the pro-life view is a winning issue for the Republican Party and any party that embraces it; (2) as a matter of principle, the pro-life position is so foundational and so important that for any party or politician to disregard it seems irresponsible.

With regard to (1), Arkes writes: "The political embarrassment for Newt is that these issues are net winners. The pro-life side, when taken up by candidates, has generally produced an advantage of about five percent at the polls." Indeed, NRLC President Wanda Franz notes: "In a [2008] post-election poll commissioned by NRLC, 34% of respondents said their vote was affected by the abortion issue: 25% voting for pro-life candidates and 9% voting for pro-abortion candidates, making for a 'pro-life difference' of 19%."

With regard to (2), Arkes says: "But beyond the political calculations, what about the question in principle? Why would the issues of ... the destruction of 1.2 million innocent lives each year in abortion be reckoned as somehow matters of lesser moment, secondary or peripheral in importance—or not even worth mentioning?"

It shouldn't be. Read the rest of Arkes' piece.