Elections

It Isn’t ‘Pro-Life’ to Vote for Beto O’Rourke

Beto O’Rourke at a campaign rally in Plano, Texas, November 2, 2018. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
The argument of a ‘pro-life feminist’ who supports the pro-abortion Democrat undercuts her own cause.

It is a betrayal of the pro-life movement for an anti-abortion advocate to endorse politicians who support abortion rights — and especially to do so in the name of advancing the anti-abortion cause.

But in the Dallas Morning News last week, one pro-life activist did just that. Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists, in part an anti-abortion advocacy group, wrote that she voted for pro-abortion Democrat Beto O’Rourke against Texas senator Ted Cruz, claiming she cast her vote in opposition to abortion.

Her argument is fundamentally incoherent and, if given any credence, will be intensely damaging to the pro-life cause. The idea that a voter should support such a candidate in order to advance the anti-abortion cause is borderline Orwellian, and there is no place for it in the pro-life movement.

The anti-abortion caucus has long been strengthened by its “big tent” philosophy. There is room for people of either political party or no political party, for people of any religion or no religion, for people who base their beliefs on the Bible or people who base them on science or people who draw on both. But there has never been room for politicians who advocate abortion rights — and there never will be.

To elect those who promote abortion is to negate the fundamental tenet of the pro-life cause: that every human being has inherent dignity and value. Pro-choice politicians actively subvert that fundamental principle by protecting the right to kill unborn human beings, and those who elect them do the same.

Voters who oppose abortion focus their public-policy strategy on two key steps. First, elect pro-life politicians so that, second, those politicians can create and enact legislation that advances the movement’s goals: enact abortion limitations, prohibit publicly funded abortion, and bolster pro-family policies such as adoption and child tax credits and funding for pregnancy-resource centers. The second step becomes entirely impossible if the movement abandons the first.

Herndon-De La Rosa uses a faulty premise to rationalize this abandonment. “As an anti-abortion-rights activist, I broke the one golden rule within our movement: Vote Republican,” she writes, before explaining that her stance as a “consistent life ethicist” and “pro-life feminist” has led her to distrust the Republican party and to look elsewhere for a political alliance.

But voting Republican has never been the “golden rule” of the pro-life movement. There are a few lamentable pro-choice Republicans, and there remain a few beleaguered pro-life Democrats. If there is a “golden rule” at all — aside from “love your neighbor as yourself,” your unborn neighbor included — it is the one Herndon-De La Rosa violated: Never vote for those who accept or promote abortion.

Pro-life voters have every reason to feel betrayed by GOP leadership — not least of which is the party’s institutional failure to remove taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, despite promising for decades to do so. But it is ludicrous to suggest that the solution to the GOP’s dereliction is to elect candidates who announce their intention to consistently thwart the pro-life movement’s agenda.

Notably, Ted Cruz is one of the few Republican senators who have consistently made defending the unborn a policy priority, and Herndon-De La Rosa’s piece doesn’t mention him once. But even if a pro-life person felt she couldn’t vote for a particular Republican candidate in good conscience, that isn’t a rational basis for supporting his pro-abortion opponent instead.

Beto O’Rourke has received the ringing endorsement of abortion-advocacy group NARAL and a sterling 100 percent rating on Planned Parenthood Action’s congressional scorecard for his votes in the House. His website trumpets his stance on “ensuring that a woman’s right to choose is not compromised by limited access to safe and legal abortion services,” and he vows to protect federal programs that divert more than half a billion dollars annually to Planned Parenthood.

The personal deficiencies of President Trump and the institutional deficiencies of the GOP on abortion do not justify supporting those who protect the judicial and legislative behemoth that sanctions the killing of nearly 1 million unborn human beings each year.

Such an absurd strategy — if it can be called a strategy at all — not only makes a mockery of human life but also undercuts pro-life goals. Herndon-De La Rosa is correct that a successful anti-abortion agenda requires fostering a culture that supports women and makes abortion unthinkable, but voting for candidates who promote abortion on demand is not a sound way to advance such a project, regardless of their other “common-ground solutions,” as Herndon-De La Rosa labels O’Rourke’s grab bag of progressive policy proposals.

“I, as a pro-life feminist, voted for Beto knowing full well it might be the end of my career,” her piece concludes, “because women and children are worth that to me.” This op-ed needn’t be the end of Herndon-De La Rosa’s career as a pro-life leader, but she ought to consider how it contradicts the cause she claims to champion. Unless and until she does so, she has indeed lost her credibility as an anti-abortion activist.

Not, as she claims, because she admitted to voting for a Democrat, but because she publicly advocated a politician who embraces unlimited abortion rights. For any voter who believes abortion takes a human life — and who believes that this is the most important issue confronting our country — there can be no pro-life argument for doing so.

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