This column appears in the current edition of Townhall Magazine.
I get a lot of press releases in my inbox. My method for opening them is akin to playing roulette—in other words, no method.
But I opened one the other day about Alieta Eck, then a Republican Senate candidate in New Jersey. I read the article embedded in the press release with growing interest, as Eck presented a compelling figure. Then I came to this paragraph:
“Meeting on Wednesday with the Inquirer Editorial Board, she [Eck] expressed views on a range of other issues, hewing to the far right of her party on most, including questioning climate change. On abortion, however, Eck said while she is ‘pro-life,’ a federal overhaul of Roe v. Wade would be ‘impossible to implement.’”
I am an issues voter, and where a candidate not only stands on life, but votes on life, is important to me. This made it slightly unclear whether Eck ascribed to the Joe Biden method of pay-lip-service- to-pro-life-views-but-never-vote-that-way (which is totally contrary to Democrats’ normal view of using legislation to impose their personal beliefs on how they think you should live your life). Or Eck could be a staunch vote for pro-life causes in the Senate, and the paper simply didn’t bother to print more of the discussion.
But what bothered me regardless—and should bother all Republicans no matter where they fall on the abortion issue—was the passiveness in “impossible to implement.”
What if abolitionists had said outlawing slavery would be impossible to implement?
What if the Founding Fathers had intoned independence from the powerful British Crown would be impossible to implement?
You see, that “impossible to implement” roadblock never stops Democrats. They work to change the political and cultural climate so such things can pass. Recent voting and court ruling on gay marriage are a prime example of that. Democrats’ constant battle to make illegal immigration more palatable by any other name is another example. Whether or not Democrats’ legislation fails, they labor to create a climate conducive to legislation finally passing at a future date.
I understand that, at some point, reality is needed in policy dreams. But fighting for a government that recognizes a right to life is so inherently American that it’s referenced in the Constitution. It is a legislative fight in addition to a cultural one.
[As an aside, if you want the definition of “impossible to implement,” see “ObamaCare.” And, somehow, the Democrats have never given up on it.]
To Eck’s credit on the pro-life front, I did a little more digging and found this touching testimonial from her on a website called Save Jersey:
“When I was a medical student I had an experience in a hospital in Newark where a mother tried to abort her baby and came to the emergency room. The baby was then placed in a plastic bag and sent to pathology. The baby was alive when the technician opened the plastic bag. He was terrified because he was holding a live baby. I happened to be nearby, so I picked the child up and took it to the ICU. The nurses left him to die. The callous attitude horrified me. So for me it was at that time I realized something had really had happened to our culture when we are treating little human beings as being wanted or not wanted rather than individuals that should be protected by the benevolent government. I am pro-life and I understand that many women choose abortion because they feel trapped. I would not demonize women who choose abortion but we need to find ways to help them see value in the life within them and provide hope. We could even have local birthing centers and let the community gather around and help those in need.”
There’s also this on her campaign website: “Dr. Eck is pro-life and believes that life begins at conception. She will fight to protect the rights of the unborn.”
Even better. But I also reached out to her campaign and received a prompt response, which read in part, “I am pro-life—I believe in the sanctity of human life from the time of conception to natural death. When I said ‘impossible to implement,’ I am simply being pragmatic. As a pharmacy student, I observed procedures done before 1973 that were called D & Cs. They were abortions, even though abortions were illegal in New Jersey. Since a ‘dilatation and curettage’ can be done for reasons other than termination of pregnancy, this would be difficult to monitor. In the very early stages of a pregnancy, there is no way for the government to eliminate all abortions if the doctor and patient are in agreement. The only way to end all those abortions would be to change the hearts and minds of all involved and we use the power of persuasion in that regard.”
I agree that changing hearts and minds is fundamental to eradicating abortion. But what I would beg of any conservative politician is this: don’t shortchange a long-standing principle legislatively. Before 1973, the impossible was possible on outlawing abortion.
If we all stopped at “impossible to implement,” we’d still be paying tribute to the British Crown.
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