Denver — There was a great shame here at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night. Pennsylvania senator Robert P. Casey Jr. spoke to the Democratic Convention. His presence at the podium was acclaimed by all quarters as a clear sign that Democrats are an open tent, that the party is not closed to those who defend human life. Casey said: “Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion. But the fact that I’m speaking here tonight is testament to Barack’s ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him.”
That’s an easy call for Obama to make in the case of Casey, who provides no leadership on the abortion issue. Casey is so not the leader that his speech didn’t even dare to mention what is the point of disagreement between the Keystone State senator and the nominee of his party. The word “life” never crossed his lips.
Sen. Casey’s appearance was supposed to serve as a signal that in the party of Obama, pro-life Democrats are not prohibited from speaking to the national convention — as the Robert P. Casey Sr. was prohibited in 1992. But the junior Casey — who has a 65-percent approval rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America — is nothing like his father.
The late Gov. Casey loved his party, and it was a great heartbreak and outrage to him that its platform betrayed innocent human life. Of abortion he said, “It tears at our souls. And so, it is for me the bitterest of ironies that abortion-on-demand found refuge, found a home — and it pains me to say this — found a home in the national Democratic Party. My party, the party of the weak, the party of the powerless.”
Casey continued, “You see, to me, protecting the unborn child follows naturally from everything I know about my party and about my country. Nothing could be more foreign to the American experience than legalized abortion. It is inconsistent with our national character, with our national purpose, with all that we’ve done, and with everything we hope to be.”
Had his son said that on the floor of the Democratic convention, in a year where the party tried to spin that their platform was somehow more pro-life than in years past (a falsehood), he would have done his father a great tribute. It would have been an apology from the party for muzzling his late father’s deepest-held convictions. Instead, Sen. Casey provided cover to a party that, this year, has a nominee who approves of infanticide. How else can you honestly describe the fact that Obama spoke out against an Illinois bill to protect children who survive abortions from being left to die? How else are we to describe a candidate who didn’t want to see a newborn have the same rights as a nine-month-old?
Obama said at the time: “whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — a child, a nine-month old — child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it — it would essentially bar abortions, because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute.”
While Obama calls those who point out the facts of his position “liars,” he was lying on the statehouse floor when he used the term “pre-viable fetus.” The law in question applied to a viable child, alive outside his mother’s womb. Barack Obama evidently views a newborn child who can be left alone in a dirty storeroom to die — as we have ample testimony happened at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois — as “pre-viable” simply because a mother or doctor deciding on her behalf wills it. What Obama supported with his tortured logic and misrepresentations is infanticide, something a step beyond abortion, down a slippery slope, deeper into a culture of death.
What do you think of that, Sen. Casey? (We know what your father would think.) And what do you think about what Sen. Obama thinks of you? In his bestselling book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote: “Most antiabortion activists, for example, have openly discouraged legislative allies from even pursuing those compromise measures that would have significantly reduced the incidence of the procedure popularly known as partial-birth abortion, because the image the procedure evokes in the mind of the public has helped them win converts to their position.” Senator Casey, is that “respect for the views of people who may disagree with you”? Someone should ask pro-choice Catholic Joe Biden about that; he voted for the ban on partial-birth abortion.
In an interview with National Review Online last week, Denver archbishop Charles J. Chaput called the late Gov. Casey a “extraordinary, courageous Catholic man,” who “came very close” to being a St. Thomas More of our day. In his book, Render Unto Caesar, Chaput compares the “personally opposed, but . . . ” position of Mario Cuomo with that of Robert P. Casey Sr. “one man said no to the direction of his party, and the other did not. It may also be fair to argue — as many do — that one man gave his party what it needed, and the other, what it wanted.”
This, too, can be said in comparing the two Caseys.
– Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.