The stance won’t win over pro-choicers and risks alienating pro-lifers. The abortion dilemma is a great moral debate. On one side, proponents of abortion rights argue what’s at stake is a woman’s right to self-determination, to the control of her own body. On the pro-life side, we know this debate is about the fundamental right of every human being to live and whether we will slouch towards a Brave New World society where your rights are determined by your perceived utility, as well as the scientifically verifiable truth that abortion is emotionally and physically devastating to the woman.
In the midst of the fundamental moral question of our day, the pure federalist suggests the Republican Party take the lead of President Obama and vote present. Their credo could have been written by Senator Stephen Douglas, who declared, “It’s none of my business which way the slavery clause is decided. I care not whether it is voted up or down.”
The GOP is the party of Senator Douglas’s opponent.
Mr. Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Lincoln was not a radical abolitionist. His measures against slavery were to seek its containment, but people concerned with slavery could support him because he understood the stakes.
I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.
The pure federalist attempt is to make the argument to pro-lifers that the really horrible thing isn’t 50 million abortions, but that a court ruling was issued without dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.” The “I care not” position on abortion is, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, the last refuge of scoundrels. It usually means the politician is:
1) incapable of making any controversial decision;
2) apathetic to the entire issue and the millions of concerned parties;
3) pro-choice, but would like to win pro-life votes so he makes the federalism argument, thus deceiving the people; or
4) pro-life, but hopes to deemphasize this by making a state’s rights argument. If they were sincere, it would be incumbent on them to call for the end of the federal drug war and social security. Neither were authorized in the Constitution.
In any case, the position is dishonest and cowardly. Legal technicalities aren’t of concern to most Americans, including most pro-lifers. If one is genuinely pro-life but genuinely feels the issue ought to be resolved at the state level, a politician should state, “I believe in the sanctity of human life and that it ought to be protected. I also believe that our federal policies should clear the way for states to pass pro-life laws.” If one’s pro-choice, be honest that you think abortion should be legal but that it would be far less divisive and corrosive to America if states made that decision.
Either position would receive far more respect from all concerned than trying to vote “present.”