The Corner

A Good Response on Abortion

Last night’s vice-presidential debate featured an obligatory question about the stance of each candidate on the issue of abortion.

I agree with Charmaine Yoest that pro-lifers should find much to like in Ryan’s answer. He clearly stated the Romney-Ryan ticket opposed abortion. He worked in a nice anecdote about seeing a sonogram image of his daughter. And he rightly pointed out that Obamacare is forcing a number of prominent Catholic institutions to violate their faith.

Finally, he highlighted the extremism of the Democratic party’s stating they support abortion without restrictions and with taxpayer funding.

Now, some pro-lifers will doubtless be disappointed that Ryan specifically carved out exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother. However, Ryan’s position is consistent with the stances of Republican presidential candidates since 1980. Though pro-lifers have made some impressive gains in the court of public opinion — most people still think abortion should be a legal option in hard-case scenarios. All in all, Ryan stated the pro-life position in a very humane way that was clear, compelling, and convincing.

Biden’s response on the other hand was dodgy, evasive, and misleading.

One could tell he was uncomfortable with the question. He weirdly stated that abortion should be a decision between a woman, her doctor, and the Supreme Court. He wrongly stated that Catholic institutions would not have to pay for contraception. Ryan’s response was effective, pointing out the numerous lawsuits that have been filed by Catholic Charities and a variety of Catholic hospitals.

It is unfortunate that the format did not allow for another round of responses. The one smart thing Vice President Biden did was raise the issue of Roe v. Wade. This tends to poll well. That having been said, Vice President Biden claimed the Republicans would nominate someone like Justice Scalia who would outlaw abortion. This is very misleading. Neither Justice Scalia, nor any other justice currently serving on the Supreme Court has ever voted to ban abortion. Scalia has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade which would not ban abortion, but rather would return abortion policy to the states. Unfortunately, Biden’s mistake is one that most mainstream-media fact-checkers will doubtless ignore.

Michael J. New is a visiting assistant professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C.

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