The Corner

Kermit Gosnell and the Perils of Pro-Choice Republicans

Among the many, many dispiriting aspects of the Kermit Gosnell saga is this terrible political reality: It was a Republican administration that ended inspections of abortion clinics:

Pennsylvania’s health department stopped routine inspections of abortion facilities in the state after Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, became governor in 1995.

Health department lawyers “changed their legal opinions and advice to suit the policy preferences of different governors,” health department official Janet Staloski said in grand jury testimony. In this case, she said the state didn’t want to be “putting a barrier up to women” who wanted abortions.

In 1999, high-level Pennsylvania officials met to consider starting up regular inspections again but decided not to, state lawyer Kenneth Brody testified, according to the grand jury report. He told the grand jury that officials were concerns that abortion clinics wouldn’t meet inspection standards and then there “would be less abortion facilities.”

Heaven forbid that a Republican cause there to be “less abortion facilities.” I’m in general agreement with the “Buckley Rule” as explained  by Neal Freeman, who was present at the rule’s creation. Discussing National Review’s decision to endorse Goldwater over Rockefeller in 1964, Freeman says the following:

With each of us in our assigned seat and with six pairs of eyeballs staring at him unblinkingly, Bill announced that “National Review will support the rightwardmost viable candidate.”

Victory for Team Goldwater! We all knew what “viable” meant in Bill’s lexicon. It meant somebody who saw the world as we did. Somebody who would bring credit to our cause. Somebody who, win or lose, would conservatize the Republican party and the country. It meant somebody like Barry Goldwater.

“Somebody who saw the world as we did.” That’s a phrase worth remembering as we ponder future candidates in future races in blue and purple states. The “Buckley Rule” is not a mandate to choose the lesser of the two evils, but a mandate to make an intelligent choice amongst actual conservatives.

What are the party’s core principles if they don’t encompass overturning Roe and protecting the sanctity of life? Some of us were excited about pro-choice Scott Brown on the limited grounds that he could stop Obamacare. He didn’t. I remember when Tom Ridge was discussed as a presidential contender — and proof of the party’s “big tent,” yet his policies directly enabled Kermit Gosnell. Back in 2000 when I lived in New York, I voted for Rick Lazio (an alleged “rising star”) against Hillary Clinton. That worked out well.

Perhaps one enduring legacy of the Gosnell case will be to further energize the pro-life base of the conservative movement, to remind us why we fight. There is no senate seat, no governor’s mansion, and no Oval Office worth turning a blind eye to the ongoing, government-enabled and government-funded slaughter of hundreds of thousands of children, sometimes in the most base and bloody of conditions.

Pro-choice Republicans? Beware of fool’s gold.


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