Searching for Judas

A little while ago, I got the latest issue of the Life Defender in the mail.  For those unfamiliar with the newsletter, it is a publication of the organization Virginians for Life, a pro-life organization based out of Front Royal.  Although the issue contained a number of interesting pieces, including a small picture of yours truly, the item that caught my eye was a provocatively entitled article “What Should We Do When Pro-life Politicians Sell Out for 30 Pieces of Political Silver?”  For those with even the most basic knowledge of the Bible, you should instantly recognize the reference to Judas.  For the price of 30 pieces of silver, Judas agreed to betray Jesus to the Jewish authorities and thus led to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Now this article claims that a certain Virginia politician has sold out the pro-life movement in exchange for political capital, but who might this politician be?  Why, it is none other than State Senator Ken Cuccinelli.  But how you may ask, according to this article, did the conservative Cuccinelli betray the pro-life cause?  By endorsing Frank Wolf.

Now I think that anyone who has read much of this blog would not be surprised to hear that Rep. Frank Wolf is not one of my favorite Virginia politicians.  He supported the $700 million dollar bailout of Wall Street, he supported bartering our freedoms by voting for the Patriot Act, and he supported limiting our gun rights through the Brady Bill, just to name a few issues of concern.  But when it comes to the issue of life, for the most part, Rep. Wolf is actually pretty good.  He is against partial-birth abortion, votes to remove much of Planned Parenthood’s funding, has an 85% voting record with National Right to Life in 2007, and typically supports the pro-life movement.  So what is his great sin, that which tarnishes him in the eyes of Virginians for Life?  He is pro-life except in the cases of rape and incest.  As I stated in the past, although I don’t agree with these exceptions, I do not condemn those pro-lifers who hold them, but treat them as brothers and sisters in the fight.  Think about it for a moment.  Not only would banning abortion except in cases of rape and incest reduce the number of abortions in this nation to a relatively few, it would also be a solution which I believe a majority of Americans could rally behind.  Do I want abortions in this country?  Absolutely not, but, like those who favor gun control, we must work though incrementalism and not tear ourselves apart through infighting.

Would I support Frank Wolf for Attorney General of Virginia?  No, I wouldn’t.  But, on the same hand, I cannot condemn Ken Cuccinelli for endorsing him based upon the life issue either.  After all, Cuccinelli is on the ballot, Wolf is not.  Plenty of conservatives supported McCain even though I did not.  Should I treat them as unrepentant heretics?  Heaven forbid.  Not only would I alienate myself, I would also condemn many otherwise fine and upstanding people that I respect and desire to work along side, not against.  Fellow conservatives, I firmly believe that Senator Cuccinelli represents a strong hope for us in the coming years and we must continue to advance our beliefs through whatever candidates and organizations share such values.  To Senator Cuccinelli, I say good luck to you, sir.  To Virginians for Life, I say do whatever you can to continue to fight for the unborn, but please do not disparage the strongly pro-life Cuccinelli on this fundamental issue.  There are certainly Judases among our ranks, but Ken Cuccinelli has proven himself to be our friend and ally, not a traitor.

The Contentious Issue of Abortion

Recently I have read on Crystal Clear Conservative, Bearing Drift, and other blogs, the debate over abortion between two of the Republican Attorney General choices, John Brownlee and Ken Cuccinelli.  Rather than focus on the two candidates, (which many others have done), I’d instead like to examine the issue of abortion itself.

As many of you know, prior to the dual Supreme Court decisions of 1973, Roe v. Wade and the less well known Doe v. Bolton, abortion was considered a state issue rather than in the federal jurisdiction.  The reasoning for this outcome was based upon an interpretation of the 14th Amendment.  For the record, the 14th Amendment reads,

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No one shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Now I have a number of complaints against the 14th Amendment both in its ramifications and in its manner of ratification, but as those issues are not the focus of this piece, I shall save them for another time.  In the decision of Roe v. Wade, as many activists of either side of the abortion debate know, the justices found that state abortion laws violated a right to privacy as established in the due process clause in Section 1 of the 14th Amendment.  Personally I cannot understand how the phrase “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” grants a person the right to an abortion, but I guess the justices to the Supreme Court knew something that I do not.  Frankly (and I’m sure that you wouldn’t be surprised if you have read my earlier posts) I think that these cases were yet another example of the Supreme Court violating the 10th Amendment by overruling the laws of the states.  Yet, it is strangely ironic I think for the court to uphold abortion through the 14th Amendment by denying life and liberty to another.  And that very point brings us to another issue.

Typically those who define themselves as social liberals ardently defend a “woman’s right to choose” while those who are socially conservative believe “abortion is murder”.  Despite what some weak-kneed politicians might say, there is and can be no common ground between these two camps.  The reason for this divide is due largely to a difference in terminology and understanding.  For liberals (and if any liberal who is reading this post wishes to correct or improve my generalization, please do so), they believe that the government has no right or authority to regulate what goes on between consenting adults or what a person can or cannot choose to do with his or her own body.  The right to privacy trumps the rights of the government.  To some extent, I can appreciate this stance, as I do not want the government to mandate what religious beliefs I hold, what weapons I may or may not own, what doctors I must visit, illegally monitor my activities, or search my possessions without a warrant.  However, abortion is a different kettle of fish.  For most, if not all conservatives, it is an issue first and foremost about life.  They view an unborn child as a person and abortion as means to kill that person.  Therefore, the government (both state and federal) has an obligation and duty to defend that person against all who seek to do it harm, even if the person in question is the victim’s mother.  How can it be illegal for a person to kill a child the day it is born, but be legal the day before?  As long as one side views the issue as privacy and the other views the issue as life, there is no middle ground.

The nation, of course, is not simply clustered into these two camps where either abortion should always be legal or illegal.  For example, you have the viability crowd who say that abortion should be legal up to the point where a child has reached viability such that he or she could live on his or her own outside the womb (20 to 27 weeks depending).  Or the people who favor banning partial-birth abortion in which the child is partially delivered early before its termination.  Others favor banning or permitting some abortions based on the establishment of some sort of other timetable.  Then you have the myriad of abortion exceptions.  Except when the life of the mother is in danger, except in the case of rape or incest, except in the case of known, likely, or probable birth defects, except in case of socioeconomic status, except when the woman’s health is at risk.  Many citizens who declare themselves to be pro-life hold to these exceptions, the most common being like John Brownlee who has the life of the mother and rape and incest exceptions.  Some pro-lifers condemn those who hold to such exception clauses as impure and not truly pro-life.  I, on the other hand do not vilify my brothers, but do pose this simple question.  How does the awful crime of rape or incest justify the additional crime of abortion? Committing an additional wrong does not somehow mitigate the first.  Now some might argue, you’re not a woman and can never really understand, and they are right.  I can never have a child nor have an abortion performed on my body.  However, during my work in the state of Tennessee I had the honor of meeting a brave person who was raped and decided to have the child rather than seeking an abortion.  That is indeed a tough situation, but, in the end, it allows good to come from an otherwise horrible situation.

Lastly, I encourage all people on both sides of this terrible conflict to discuss the issue calmly and rationally.  Sure, as a pro-lifer, you can shout names like “murderer” and “baby killer”, but I expect that doing so would have little impact on a vast majority of those who have abortions and those who commit them.  Until and unless you can convince a person that an unborn child is a person too, success will be exceedingly difficult.  You must prove that it is an issue of life over privacy.  This is a conflict not only to be fought in the courts, Congress, and state legislatures, but in the hearts and minds of Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public.