Politics & Policy

Progress Report

Rudolph Giuliani has been zigzagging on abortion all year. First he zigged toward pro-lifers, explaining that he was now against partial-birth abortion. Then he zagged, reiterating his support for taxpayer funding of abortion. He promised to appoint justices like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Then he said that his justices could, unlike Scalia and Thomas, just as easily affirm Roe as negate it. Lately he has been zigging again, telling a social-conservative gathering that as president he would veto any weakening of existing anti-abortion policies and sign any “reasonable” restrictions on abortion.

Pat Robertson, who endorsed Giuliani yesterday, is pleased with where these zigzags have left the candidate. The veto pledge is a particularly welcome step. The next president will probably face a Democratic Congress. Today’s Democratic caucus is much more pro-abortion than it was the last time the Democrats held Capitol Hill. It could try to enact taxpayer funding of abortion, especially if the president says he (or she) favors it in principle. That policy would increase the number of abortions, probably quite a bit.

Most pro-lifers, however, continue to have concerns about Giuliani. In the next few years we could see the development of an industry in cloning human embryos for stem-cell research. Whatever the odds are that our nation will restrict abortion, they will be much, much lower if we get into the business of mass-producing and killing human embryos. Giuliani has said that he opposes cloning, but that statement of preference leaves him plenty of wiggle room. He has not promised to do what he can to ban it, as Romney, McCain, Thompson, and Huckabee would. He has not even stated a preference against taxpayer funding of other types of embryo-destructive research.

Above all, Giuliani refuses to say that he thinks that Roe was a mistaken decision, let alone that it should now be overturned. He could say that without having to step back from his view that states should keep abortion legal and fund it (regrettable though it is that he holds that view). He could simply say that the Constitution does not compel the policy he prefers and that states should be free to reject that policy. He has refused multiple opportunities to say any such thing. He thus stands neither for human life nor for self-government.

Our advice for the mayor: more zig, less zag.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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