Politics & Policy

Carly Fiorina Brilliantly Defied the Unofficial Rules of the Abortion Debate

For years, the mainstream media, pop culture, and the conventions of politics have jammed pro-life politicians and activists into a box. In this, the most consequential of debates, in which millions of innocent lives hang in the balance, it is imperative that one not show too much emotion, that one be nice — not scary. A politician can thunder about income inequality, about manufacturing jobs, or about a degree or two on the thermometer, but when it comes to babies being dismembered in the womb, let’s just be civil, shall we?

Last night, Carly Fiorina broke the convention. Yes, there were men on the stage who spoke with conviction and feeling about Planned Parenthood. Ted Cruz did particularly well in describing the videos — not presuming that everyone had seen them and taking the opportunity to describe their contents, in detail. Fiorina, however, made the discussion real — a pro-life woman speaking with the passion that so many pro-life women feel. She said this:

I dare Hillary Clinton [and] Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” This is about the character of our nation.

Fiorina was referring to the grisly testimony of Holly O’Donnell, a former StemExpress employee who described how she watched a baby resuscitated right in front of her, its heart beating, and then was told to “cut down the middle of the face” to harvest the child’s brain.

RELATED: Carly Fiorina Dares Obama and Clinton to Watch Planned Parenthood Videos

In three sentences, Fiorina not only brought to life the moral reality of abortion and the atrocities of Planned Parenthood. She also expressed the extreme frustration so many conservatives rightly feel in the face of Republican impotence. It is shameful indeed if the Republican party cannot even muster the will to force the president to declare his unconditional allegiance to abortion on demand, to taxpayer funding for the organization that murders millions.

#share#Given the Democrats’ adeptness at war-on-women rhetoric — especially in presidential years, when greater numbers of single women vote — it is critical that the most potent, the most passionate pro-life voice belonged to the only woman on the stage, a former secretary and a breast-cancer survivor. Identity politics are ridiculous, but when reaching out to the undecided or the disengaged, identities still do matter.

RELATED: Carly’s Night

The Left has shaped the pro-choice debate, reserving all the anger and emotion for itself, because it knows its vulnerabilities. Orthodox religion and moral tradition are not on its side, the facts are not on its side, and if emotion is allowed, the plight of the dismembered innocent should dominate the debate — and would dominate it, if honesty were permitted.

#related#Last night, Carly Fiorina threw down the gauntlet. As a conservative woman, she defied the unofficial rules of the abortion debate and put the truth, including the emotional truth, directly in front of more than 20 million Americans, with various social-media shares likely accounting for millions more. This is what the Left fears most, and it will strike back hard and fast — indeed, it already is doing so — but the damage is done, and in attempting to rebut Fiorina, they are giving her more exposure.

For more than a generation, pro-life activists have watched in frustration as even the best conservative politicians struggle to describe not just the facts of abortion but also its emotional truth. For the first time in my memory, a presidential candidate succeeded. Carly Fiorina gave the pro-life movement the moment it was looking for.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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