The Corner

Reid and Partial Birth Abortion

Several of us noted last week that Senator Reid seemed to contradict himself on partial birth abortion—saying he wishes Justice O’Connor were still on the court (presumably to overturn the ban) even though he himself had voted for the ban. Robert Novak asked Reid if this meant he had changed his mind on partial birth abortion.

“Not at all,” Reid said when I asked him. Recalling his many votes against partial birth abortion, he indicated he supported the court’s decision. “I just don’t like what Alito has done on other cases,” he said. What other cases? “I can’t recall,” Reid replied, but he promised aides would let me know.

Novak was not impressed with the answer Reid’s aides later gave him. A more likely explanation for Reid’s off-handed comment is the logic behind a statement Novak quotes from Delaware Senator Thomas Carper. Carper was another of the 17 Democrats who voted for the ban on partial birth abortion in 2003, but last week said: “I think a number of people who voted for it thought that the court would ultimately strike it down.”

The profiles in courage continue.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.


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