Abortion Falls Between ...


By William Westmiller

Storm clouds are massing for a thunderous confrontation within the Republican party over the abortion issue. The last cold front came in from the Southwest this past November, freezing any Republican hopes for a role in California's government and chilling the prospects for a larger majority in Congress. Those dashed hopes are going to collide with a warm front out of the Northeast, overheated with the passion of an impeachment process that branded Republicans as partisan prudes. When those two bodies of hot and cold collide over middle America, the lightning and thunder will be all about abortion. The future of the Republican party won't be clear until the winds abate, the flood waters recede and the damage is assessed.
Abortion is the turnkey issue that expresses the trepidations of so many voters over the separation of church and state. Overturning the Supreme Court's Roe v Wade finding wasn't a prominent issue in most of the recent Republican electoral failures, yet every candidate was exposed to the voter's fears that religious dogma would dominate any Republican's civil rights agenda. The national party effort to galvanize puritan outrage at President Clinton's sexual dalliances may have energized the so-called Republican base, but it also alienated the broad spectrum of voters who want a clear line between religious doctrine and government policy.
Thunderclouds will gather first around the California Republican Party Convention in Sacramento at the end of this month. The lightening rod for the contest will be the leading candidate for State Chairman, John McGraw. As a supporter of previous abortion "litmus tests" for Republican candidates, McGraw has made it clear that opposition to abortion is his primary and only platform. For him, "any other issues pale in comparison". His election could be an omen that the "pro-life" plank will remain firmly entrenched in the state party's platform. The outcome will determine which way the winds blow across the nation.
The Presidential candidacy of Gary Bauer, the Christian Coalition's tornado of "family values"will be a national bellwether for the party's inclinations. Although he's already strayed from the straight and narrow, Bauer's primary motive is to stem the tide against any moderation of the party's position on abortion, in opposition to George Bush Jr.'s "compassionate conservative" theme. Bauer has taken an odd position as the designated "Ayatollah in waiting", proposing that state restrictions on abortion be extended from the third to the second trimester of pregnancy. In this respect, he's nearly a liberal compared with perennial anti-abortion candidate Alan Keyes. However, Bauer has gone over the far right edge of the Republican party by proposing a repeal of the First Amendment's ban on the "establishment of religion". Whatever expedience or oddball schemes he may contrive, his inclinations are evident. He wants government to control women's bodies during pregnancy.
The Republican position on abortion should be clearly on the side of individual rights and limited government. A woman has a right to control her body and any part of her body. The government's sole interest should be protecting that right, not encouraging or financing or promoting any voluntary choices she may make about her life. The proposition that a fetus is a person is flimsy, even on biblical grounds. On rational legal grounds, it's nonsense. The only logically consistent position for abortion foes is to support capital punishment - stoning -for any woman who terminates her pregnancy. Not even Gary Bauer can find the stomach for such a preposterous concept. What the Republican party needs is a cool summer breeze flowing through it's platform, clearing out the dead dust of ancient religious edicts.
The gods of old punished mankind with bolts of lightning. The arbitrary whims of Zeus and Jupiter are reflected in the random extraction of biblical lore for direct insertion into the chronicles of political wisdom. In ancient times, the issue of right and wrong was settled by contests between the strong and the weak. The merit of their argument was irrelevant. The greatest powers of the gods were not exercised through persuasion, but through force. In the current contest, it may well be that the argument will be settled by the sheer numbers of active moralists. Even if their numbers correspond to only a small percentage of Republican voters, their lightening bolts are focused and direct at powerful establishments.
The impending clash of heavenly forces is not about religious ethics or common morals, it is about the proper role of government. Republican principles dictate a limited, constitutional role for government in protecting the rights of individuals to life, liberty and property. When the winds screech loudest and hailstones fall in damnation of secular ideas, cooler heads will remember that the storm is really about a nation that was founded to evade religious persecution. When the storm clouds clear, there should be a bright ray of sunshine on this nation conceived in liberty.


©1999, William Westmiller
California Coordinator of the Republican Liberty Caucus
Past Candidate for the Republican Nomination for (24 CA) Congress
Former National Secretary, California Chairman, Libertarian Party
abort.c29 ~815 Words
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