Politics Will Not Stop Abortion

Today's Peggy Noonan column is particularly incisive about the Republicans and this year's electoral prospects.

The Democrats aren't the ones falling apart, the Republicans are. The Democrats can see daylight ahead. For all their fractious fighting, they're finally resolving their central drama. Hillary Clinton will leave, and Barack Obama will deliver a stirring acceptance speech. Then hand-to-hand in the general, where they see their guy triumphing. You see it when you talk to them: They're busy being born.

The Republicans? Busy dying. The brightest of them see no immediate light. They're frozen, not like a deer in the headlights but a deer in the darkness, his ears stiff at the sound. Crunch. Twig. Hunting party.

By the end of the column she holds out a little hope for McCain and the GOP. But not much.

Rod Dreher is even more pessimistic. As you may recall, I've been slowly concluding that political means are not going to achieve the ends that social conservatives desire. At Rod's post some of the reader comments argue that we need to hold our noses and vote for McCain for one reason only: there is at least some chance he will appoint Supreme Court justices who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, while there is little or no chance Obama will do so. This idea is compelling at first, but consider this response from one reader:

If McCain is elected he can attempt to appoint as many strict constructionists as he wants but not one of them will even get to a committee vote. There will be NO pro-life justices confirmed to the Supreme Court by this next Senate.

If, by some bizarre occurance, Roe V Wade were to be overturned, within two election cycles there would not be enough Republicans left in office at any level to influence or stop anything and there would be federal legislation codifying roe into law. The reason that no anti-abortion constitutional amendment was ever introduced was very simple. There has never been, and probably never will be, 67 votes in the Senate to pass it.

In other words, if anyone thinks that abortion can be outlawed again in this lifetime--forget it. That battle is lost, probably forever...

If Roe were to be overturned, California, New York, Illinois, Minnesota and Massachussetts at the very least, would immediately codify abortion rights into state law even before all the Republicans would be thrown out of office. That means that abortion would be available to everyone with only a relatively short airplane ride.

And then within four years it would a guaranteed right under federal law anyway and everyone opposed to it would be packed into some internment camp in Cuba.

This is closer to the truth than I think most of us want to admit. We live in a representative democracy. Abortion will stay legal as long as a majority of people want it to be so, which they quite obviously do. Why? Because abortion permits them to indulge their sexual desires without annoying and distracting consequences such as pregnancy. Like it or not, that is a fact in 2008.

If we elect McCain and if he appoints conservative Supreme Court justices and if they overturn Roe v. Wade, then what? All that happens is that states will be permitted to ban or regulate abortion if they wish. Some will do so, but the practice will be just as legal as it is now in many states. Women from other states who want abortions will simply go to where it is allowed. Maybe a few poor women who don't live near a state border will end up carrying their babies to term, but for the most part there will be no fewer abortions than there are now.

This suggests to me that the better strategy is cultural and spiritual. We need to work on building a society in which people appreciate life for the great gift it is. We need to help people respect the power of their sexuality and keep it in the right context.

The sad fact is that American Christians haven't done a very good job of this. Our sexual behavior is often indistinguishable from that of the pagan cultures we say we oppose. Only when we repent and start to lead by example will the culture begin to follow. Yes, it will take many years. That's why the time to start is now.

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