Marjorie Dannenfelser

For years Rudy Giuliani tried to finesse his position on abortion with pro-life Republican voters. In order to disguise his support for so-called abortion rights, the former New York mayor professed to hate abortion.

“I’m against abortion,” Giuliani declared in a recent campaign appearance in South Carolina. “I hate it. I wish there never was abortion, and I would counsel a woman to have an adoption instead of an abortion.”

Hoping to parse the issue in such a way that would neutralize (or confuse) pro-life Republican voters in the presidential primaries, Giuliani repeatedly professed his personal loathing for abortion while sadly acknowledging that a woman’s right to choose is the law of the land and must so remain.

This dodge finally collapsed. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The bottom is out of the tub.” Recent revelations that in the 1990s Giuliani and his former wife gave hundreds of dollars to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion provider, dramatically underscored the hypocrisy at the heart of Hizzoner’s position.

Reportedly, Giuliani has decided to stop the charade. According to the New York Times, Giuliani will give up his earlier strategy of posing as a personal opponent of abortion and start running as an avowedly pro-abortion candidate. He will bypass early primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina where pro-life voters predominate and focus instead on the Feb. 5th super primary in states such as New York, California, and New Jersey that allegedly would be more receptive to a pro-abortion candidate.

Yet the problem for Giuliani is that the Republican Party is the pro-life party. It has not nominated a pro-abortion candidate since 1980. Pro-life voters turn out in large numbers in all of the primaries. If Mr. Giuliani does indeed start running as an avowed champion of abortion, then pro-life voters will be highly motivated to go to the polls in all of the early primaries to deny him the nomination.

Giuliani is not the first American politician to try and finesse a sticky moral issue. His now-abandoned position on abortion was eerily reminiscent of the position on slavery adopted by Abraham Lincoln’s political adversary Sen. Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. Like Giuliani on abortion, Douglas professed his personal opposition to slavery. In the celebrated Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, the “Little Giant,” as Douglas was known, repeatedly asserted his personal revulsion for slavery, calling the institution immoral. Yet, as Lincoln pointed out, Douglas’s personal opposition to slavery, while undoubtedly sincere, was irrelevant when it came to public policy.

Marjorie Dannenfelser

Marjorie Dannenfelser is President of the Susan B. Anthony List.

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