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.

While Douglas hated slavery, he would do nothing to impede its expansion into the new territories, would not set his hand against the institution in the southern states where it existed, and supported the infamous Fugitive Slave Law that returned escaped bondsmen to their masters when captured on the free soil of the northern states.

For all practical purpose, Douglas’s position was pro-slavery. While his hatred for slavery was heartfelt, Douglas’s personal convictions probably were little comfort to those African-Americans held in servile bondage.

But unlike Rudy Giuliani on abortion, it is not known that Stephen Douglas ever made donations to pro-slavery causes. Douglas’s personal aversion to slavery would have made it impossible for him to contribute money to an organization devoted to the defense, promotion, and extension of slavery in the United States.

Yet this is precisely what Giuliani did by contributing to Planned Parenthood, an organization that supports the most extreme positions on the issue. Planned Parenthood opposed the federal ban on partial-birth abortion – a hideous procedure that entails the abortionist killing a baby at the very moment of birth. Planned Parenthood opposed the Born-Alive Infants’ Protection Act that banned the practice of so-called “live birth abortions,” in which allegedly “unwanted” babies born alive are left to die without therapeutic care. Planned Parenthood even opposes parental notification in cases of minor children seeking abortions.

The revelation that Rudy Giuliani contributed to Planned Parenthood was the last straw for pro-life voters, many of whom already had penetrated the smokescreen about his personal beliefs. Donations to Planned Parenthood could not be explained away or dismissed by declarations of one’s personal beliefs. It is simply impossible to believe that someone who genuinely abhors abortion on deeply held moral grounds could contribute money to Planned Parenthood, the chief perpetrator of abortion in America.

Rudy Giuliani is a pro-abortion politician. That is the plain truth of the matter. The revelations of his support for Planned Parenthood made this abundantly clear and rendered his pretenses to the contrary unsustainable. So he is now ready to own up to his pro-abortion position and stop trying to finagle pro-life Republican voters into believing he is something he isn’t. As was made clear in the great slavery debates between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, moral issues cannot be finessed. One cannot be personally opposed to a moral evil and yet do nothing to ameliorate it – much less take overt actions to lend aid and comfort to the perpetrators of that evil. By abandoning his previous hypocrisy and embracing an avowedly pro-abortion position, Mr. Giuliani has clarified the choice for pro-life Republican voters.


Marjorie Dannenfelser

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

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