Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The party of moral values

Naphtuli has been arguing that the Republicans are creatures of principle, especially when it comes to abortion. And indeed, Republicans like to claim that they are the defenders of "life," particularly the lives of those who are most vulnerable, such as the severely brain-damaged and the unborn. But how, then, do you explain the embarrassing fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the decline in the number of abortions under Bill Clinton has not continued since George W. Bush took office? And, more importantly, how do you explain the fact that, on March 17, Senate Republicans rejected an amendment Democrats Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid offered to the budget bill that put forward a comprehensive plan to reduce unwanted pregnancies and thereby reduce abortions?

If you take Republicans at their word--that they seek to protect the lives of fetuses--then it is inexplicable. If, on the other hand, you believe the thesis of Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas? --that Republicans cynically use moral issues like abortion to get working-class Christian voters to the polls while their real agenda is mostly about helping the wealthy--then it begins to make more sense. Why allow Democrats to reduce abortions when that might erode your ability to campaign against their supposed hostility to the lives of the unborn?

Or perhaps the Republicans' rationale is even more nefarious than electoral advantage. After all, opposing the distribution of condoms, the teaching of safer-sex methods, and the increased availability of birth control are ends unto themselves for cultural conservatives. What they really oppose is not so much the deaths of innocent fetuses but female reproductive freedom and premarital sex. And it seems they are perfectly willing to tolerate more abortions to achieve those goals.


[Note: On December 24 the hyperlink was added to the word "Source" which was written (but due to an error) and included - but not linked to anything - in the original post]