Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Political Parties and Abortion

On February 23, March for Life Day, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC made an interesting comment concerning political parties and abortion.   See a clip from her show here.

She said that the Republicans have a litmus test on the subject of abortion. She claims that you must be against abortion to be a Republican. Next she contrast this with the Democrats who have no such litmus test and pointed to the fact that there are many anti abortion Democrats to prove this claim.

She is right about the second point. There are many anti abortion Democrats including myself and the current US congressman from my district. But the the picture is not so clear. Starting in the 1980s the Democratic elite moved to force the human rights liberals out of party leadership. This came to a head in 1992 when the liberal governor of Pennsylvania was barred from speaking at that year's convention. No longer being in elected office I dropped out of my party positions and left the Democratic party.

What happened next refutes her first point. Having made public my displeasure with the party I was approached by several of the Republicans I had served with in local government who invited me to join the Republican party. I spent some time with each of them to see why they thought their party would be a match for my idealism about freedom, democracy and human rights.

Each one said that my "Pro Life" position would be welcomed in their party. I suspect they  had no idea what being pro life meant but they thought that it had to do with abortion. So, I interviewed each of them about their position on abortion and their party's platform plank related thereto.  Here's what I found out.
   - Most were pro abortion, at least in the 'private' sense of being certain they would assist  their       daughter in getting an abortion if she wanted/needed it.
   - However, they all supported the party platform opposing abortion because:
                 - Republicans need pro life votes to get elected
                 - Republicans need Catholic votes to get elected.
As you might suspect, I spent the next decade as an Independent.

During those ten years we lived in a heavily Republican part of New Jersey and I do not remember an election where there was a pro life or even an anti-abortion candidate on our ballots for state or US congress from  either party. When I left New Jersey the state government was solidly in the hands of the Republicans and they were officially pro abortion. The governor, despite her outspoken pro-abortion position, was the first person chosen by G W Bush for his cabinet. So much for a litmus test.

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