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OPINION

Abortion Absolutism Will Get Republicans Nowhere

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

As the circus surrounding the arrest and indictment of former President Donald Trump reached its zenith last week, barely anyone seemed to notice that Republicans lost another critical election, this time for a majority-giving state supreme court seat in Wisconsin. As a result, Democrats will now be able to use the highest court in the state to undo almost every GOP victory over the last two decades, from teachers’ unions to redistricting, as well as ensure continued election system chaos in 2024 and beyond.

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Conservative influencers who decried the loss were quick to point to a lack of effort and turnout among Republicans in the state. Trump and many of his supporters on social media asserted that the GOP candidate would have won had he only bent the knee to the former president, even though he did exactly that in 2020 and lost then too. GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, however, seemed to be closest to the mark by articulating one key reason why Republicans lost this election. The party, she argued, has a “messaging issue” on abortion. McDaniel is oh-so-close but still won’t say what must be said. So, sadly, the chore falls to this lowly Townhall columnist who is, apparently, a real glutton for punishment.

The much-needed overturning of Roe vs. Wade has led to Republicans in far too many swing states going as extreme as possible to the other side. In Wisconsin, the decision led to the revival of a draconian abortion law passed in 1849 banning the procedure in all cases other than medical necessity. Democrats used a majority of Wisconsinites’ disagreement with the law as a sledgehammer to drive voter turnout and get their candidate on the state supreme court. Which, ironically, will result in more abortions than otherwise would have taken place had abortion absolutist lawmakers chosen to pass something a majority of the public could live with.

I pointed this out several times on Twitter last week, only to be basically labeled a baby killer with no principles. Here’s a taste of comments from those who took issue with my position:

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It’s not that it’s unpopular. It’s that if you believe abortion is murder, there is no equivocation.

Because if my choice is the murder of 10 million more innocent babies or losing elections, then I will take losing elections. And I will deal with the fallout. Quite frankly, I don’t know how anybody would choose otherwise.

Compromise with child sacrifice is a no-go for me. Do better.

God is more important than your deathly political expediency.

Fine with me. Conservatives need to actually conserve their values and stop letting ppl convince them otherwise. And if that costs Republicans elections, then oh well. It's better ultimately to stick with your convictions that killing babies is wrong.

In other words, ‘muh principles,’ or something. Here’s the problem, though. When your ‘principles’ are costing you elections that then result in everything else that matters going down the toilet, those ‘principles’ aren’t worth the few seconds it took you to sanctimoniously tweet them at me. I argued similarly during my many debates against the NeverTrump crowd back in 2015-2016. Sure, the guy may have been a whoremonger, an adulterer, a serial liar, and a narcissistic egomaniac. Still, I didn’t give a damn because I thought he could win and drive forward much-needed reforms that would help hundreds of millions of people. It wasn’t ‘principles’ that won the 2016 election, it was political will. And that political will get us wins we wouldn’t have had otherwise, including the overturning of Roe.

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But now that Roe HAS been overturned, it’s up to Republicans to craft and articulately communicate an abortion position that will win majority support and, in the end, save more babies than would have been saved otherwise. Suppose you are an abortion absolutist who believes Republicans should hold the line on criminalizing every aspect of life from conception to birth. In that case, you must know that a majority of Americans will never agree with your view, and well over half will never, ever vote for any candidate who does. In fact, they will gladly crawl over hot coals to vote for that candidate’s opponent, no matter how extreme left on every other issue that opponent happens to be. So not only will you not get your policy position in the end, you’ll lose out on the ability to win on any other policy position you prefer. 

If you say your position is not abortion absolutism but rather some form of compromise that involves incest, rape, or medical necessity, yet you still condemn me and aren’t willing to adjust your position for political expediency, please know that you are a hypocrite. Your position is morally no different from that of someone like me who holds that 15 weeks is a viable political compromise. It’s either a life or it isn’t, right? Hold that a 1-minute-old zygote is morally the same as a fully-formed fetus or a 4-year-old child. You must also hold that that 1-minute-old zygote, no matter how that zygote came into being, is worthy of every legal protection that a fully-formed fetus and a 4-year-old child deserves. If you don’t, then yes, you are a hypocrite.

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To the true conception-to-birth abortion absolutists: You may be 100% correct morally. You may not be. It’s a complicated issue, and none of us know everything. However, as with other forms of prohibition, what may be morally correct isn’t always legally or politically viable. I submit that we can save far more human lives and preserve our way of life by taking a position on abortion that a majority of Americans can stomach. We need to be pointing out Democratic extremism on the issue, the kind that wants to keep crushing the skulls of fully-formed babies with forceps, not creating fodder for them to use against us and our way of life.

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