The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Suicide Pact with Hardcore Abortion-Rights Purists

About Jerry Brown and abortion (see below): His record is mixed.

Bottom line: conventional pro-choice Democrat.

But the middle lines include some curious statements and executive decisions that a hardcore, never-give-an-inch pro-abortion-rights Democrat should find concerning.

Which means that those parts of his record should cheer pro-lifers, though not because we think that he’s ever going to change sides or that it would change the world if he did, given that he’s 79 and unlikely to be influencing Democrats much a generation from now. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the first time that he confounded expectations and pleasantly surprised us — may he do so again.

Where opinion on abortion is assumed to be binary, the California governor and a shill for NARAL would be classified as belonging to the same camp, but that would deprive the pro-life side of some interesting bragging rights, such as Brown’s statement that “the killing of the unborn is crazy.” Granted, that was three decades ago, but three months ago he made a splash by siding with those in his party who think that Democrats should welcome pro-lifers into the fold and fund viable pro-life candidates. At The Human Life Review I itemize some of the high points where his long career and the history of the post-Roe abortion debate in America have intersected.

Unless pro-lifers think that America can and ought to be a one-party state, they should seed pro-life ideas among Democrats and take encouragement from any D politician who, in whole or in part, is already with them. Clearly it would be in the interest of the Democratic party, too, to moderate on abortion. It’s fascinating, in a grim way, to watch so many prominent Democrats dig in and declaim through clenched teeth that abortion is a fundamental right and they will fight to the death for it, when it’s so obvious to the rest of the world that their ticket to the mainstream in American political culture is “Abortion is a tragic necessity and here’s our plan for reducing its incidence.”

Democratic politicians will resort to that line when cornered, but it sounds contrived and unconvincing under the circumstances. They would do better to lead with that message — and to have thought it through and mean it, because they’re not going to fool any voters, whether in Pennsylvania or Ohio or Michigan or Wisconsin or Alabama, for whom no issue could be more serious than abortion.

Democrats have a penchant for sacrificing themselves on the altar of abortion-rights purity. Alexandra DeSanctis on the homepage examines the phenomenon as it manifests in the case of Doug Jones. Handed a gift in the form of Roy Moore’s imploding candidacy, he seems determined to throw it away by talking about abortion in terms that would please Gloria Steinem in the 1970s, as if there were a lot of Alabama voters in 2017 who fit that profile. Matt Lewis at The Daily Beast has a similar take.

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