Two unrelated incidents this week showcased the oft-ignored fanaticism of abortion proponents.
On Wednesday, newly announced Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul rebuffed a reporter’s question about his abortion stance by encouraging the reporter to ask Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz “if she’s okay with killing a seven-pound baby that is just not born yet.”
Wasserman-Schultz spared him the trouble of asking.
“I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved,” she volunteered in a statement. “Period. End of story.”
One day earlier, Kansas governor Sam Brownback had signed into law the “Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act,” which would, according to the Associated Press, “ban a common second-trimester procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus.”
“Dismemberment” is not a term of propaganda. Here is Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, describing the procedure in his opinion for the court in Gonzalez v. Carhart (2007):
The doctor, often guided by ultrasound, inserts grasping forceps through the woman’s cervix and into the uterus to grab the fetus. The doctor grips a fetal part with the forceps and pulls it back through the cervix and vagina, continuing to pull even after meeting resistance from the cervix. The friction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman. The process of evacuating the fetus piece by piece continues until it has been completely removed. A doctor may make 10 to 15 passes with the forceps to evacuate the fetus in its entirety, though sometimes removal is completed with fewer passes. Once the fetus has been evacuated, the placenta and any remaining fetal material are suctioned or scraped out of the uterus. The doctor examines the different parts to ensure the entire fetal body has been removed.
Seven years earlier, in a dissenting opinion in Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), Kennedy had noted, about the same process:
The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn from limb from limb [sic]. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off.
Kansas’s new law, effective July 1, makes physicians who conduct an abortion by this method subject to prosecution. A first-time offense is a misdemeanor; repeat offenses can be tried as felonies.
Yet the Democratic party accepts this practice as a justifiable means of securing a woman’s “right.” The party’s steadfast opposition to any restrictions on abortion is enshrined in its official platform, adopted in 2012:
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
Such “efforts” most definitely include Kansas’s new law. Planned Parenthood, a key Democratic party backer, is already considering a legal challenge to the law. The Democratic party of the United States maintains that literally tearing an unborn child limb from limb is a private decision between women and their doctors.
Democrats’ unrelenting support for abortion anytime during pregnancy is wildly out of step with the American public. Only one in four Americans thinks abortion should be legal under any circumstances, according to 2014 polling results from Gallup. The Pew Research Center puts the number even lower, at one in five. There is, moreover, little difference between men and women on this question, with support for unrestricted abortion among women only 4 percentage points higher than among men, according to Pew. In 2012, Gallup found that 61 percent of respondents supported legal abortion during the first three months of pregnancy, but only 27 percent supported legal second-trimester abortions. A measly 14 percent thought abortion should be legal in a pregnancy’s final three months.
#related#These findings suggest that an overwhelming majority of Americans would support Kansas’s law simply because abortion-by-dismemberment generally occurs in the second trimester. But it seems likely that even those comfortable with second-trimester abortions might be uncomfortable with this particular method.
The Democratic party, by contrast, is officially against any such restrictions. The abortion of unborn children because they are inexpensive or inconvenient; the abortion of unborn children because they have Down Syndrome or a club foot or a cleft palate, or because they are female; the abortion of children by the slaughterhouse methods employed by Kermit Gosnell, or the many others like him — Democrats are okay with all of it.
By turning the abortion question on his Democratic opponents, Rand Paul was pointing out the rank media partisanship that declares only Republicans’ thoughts on abortion newsworthy. But, more importantly, what he understands and helped to expose is that it is Democrats, not Republicans, who are disconnected from most Americans on the question of abortion — and not least because their logical consistency necessitates consequences that most people cannot help but find ghastly.
– Ian Tuttle is a National Review Institute Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism.