Opinion: GOP should focus on late-term abortion

February 1, 2014


— What is it about women that causes leading Republicans to grow clumsy, if not stupid? When even savvy, fluent, attractively populist Mike Huckabee stumbles, you know you’ve got trouble. Having already thrown away eminently winnable Senate seats in Missouri and Indiana because of moronic talk about rape, the GOP might have learned. You’d think.

Huckabee wasn’t quite as egregious, just puzzling and a bit weird. Trying to make a point about Obamacare mandating free contraceptives, he inexplicably began speculating that the reason behind the freebie was the Democrats’ belief that women need the federal government to protect them from their own libidos.

Bizarre. I can think of no Democrat who has ever said that, nor any liberal who even thinks that. Such a theory, when offered by a conservative, is quite unfortunately self-revealing.

In any case, why go wandering into the psychology of female sexuality in the first place? It’s ridiculous. This is politics. Stick to policy. And there’s a good policy question to be asked about the contraceptive mandate (even apart from its challenge to religious freedom). It’s about priorities. By what moral logic does the state provide one woman with co-pay-free contraceptives while denying the same subvention to another woman when she urgently needs antibiotics for her sick child? 

The same principle of sticking to policy and forswearing amateur psychology should apply to every so-called women’s issue. Take abortion, which is the subtext of about 90 percent of the alleged “war on women,” the charge being that those terrible conservative men are denying women control of their reproductive health.

The charge has worked. Although the country is fairly evenly split on the abortion question, the Republicans’ inability to make their case in respectful tones has cost them dearly. In 2012, they lost unmarried women by 36 (!) points.

Yet there is a very simple, straightforward strategy for seizing the high ground on abortion in a way that transcends the normal divisions and commands wide popular support: Focus on the horror of late-term abortion — and get it banned.

Last year’s Kermit Gosnell trial was a seminal moment. The country was shown a baby butcher at work and national sentiment was nearly unanimous. Abortion-rights advocates ran away from Gosnell. But they can’t hide from the issue.

And the issue, as most succinctly defined by the late liberal Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, is infanticide. Describing one form of late-term abortion known as partial-birth, Moynihan said: “I had once remarked that the procedure was too close to infanticide. And now we have testimony that it is not just too close to infanticide, it is infanticide.” How else to describe crushing the infant’s skull in mid-delivery before the head leaves the birth canal?

Conservatives need to accept that no such consensus exists regarding early abortions. Unlike late-term abortions where there are clearly two human beings involved, there is no such agreement regarding, say, a six-week-old embryo.

There remains profound disagreement as to whether at this early stage the fetus has acquired personhood or, to put it more theologically, ensoulment. The disagreement is understandable given that the question is a matter of faith.

This doesn’t mean that abortion opponents should give up. But regarding early abortions, the objective should be persuasion — creating some future majority — rather than legislative coercion in the absence of a current majority. These are the constraints of a democratic system.

Not so regarding a third- or late-second-trimester abortion. Here we are dealing with a child that could potentially live on its own — if not killed first. And killing it, for any reason other than to save the mother’s life, is an abomination. Outlawing that — state by state and nationally — should be the focus of any Republican’s position on abortion.

A test case for this kind of policy-oriented political strategy is the governor’s race in Texas: Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate, has a complicated personal history. Stop talking about it. (Her capacity for veracity is a legitimate issue, but for God’s sake why go into her parenting choices? That’s a snare and a distraction.) Talk policy — specifically the issue that brought Davis to national prominence.

What was her 11-hour filibuster about? Blocking a state law whose major feature was outlawing abortions beyond 20 weeks. Make that the battlefield. Make Davis explain why she chose not just to support late-term abortion but to make it her great cause.

Stay away from the minefield of gender politics. Challenge the other side on substance. And watch them lose.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


William Enick 4 years, 4 months ago

"Challenge the other side on substance". Hmm.... no serious republican denies THE FACT that conservative ideology has not passed any philosophical tests. It has failed them. It has been admitted as a "weakness". Most Americans now view the conservative movement as a perverse construct of unsound, arrogant, morally unforgiving, ah-natural (an attitude of indifference in the face of Natural Law), absolutist left-overs from the Puritan age. It occurred to me just now that I might be a little hard on the Puritans..but if I am..it is not by much... having done some research concerning their behavior.

Larry Sturm 4 years, 4 months ago

Why is there no outrage over giving Viagra to old men.

Beator 4 years, 4 months ago

You're against late term erections?

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 4 months ago

Keep up the Good work, Charles. Never mind the economy or Jobs. Your work helps Democrats and Independents alike. This strategy did not work in the Last Two Presidential elections. So what? Double Down on them. Show us how you Really Feel. Just Keep Distracting from the Real problems. Keep pounding that Drum for the base! The Election will be here soon and gone before you know it. I have my voting papers in order! See you all at the polls!

Renee Patrick 4 years, 4 months ago

Michael Beaton, yes. Charles, you lost me at butcher. Until then the article was reasoned and bereft of emotional blather. I'd dint finish reading, so I have no idea whether your point was worth the read or if you might have convinced me to change my view. Until you wrote butcher, I was willing to listen.

Gary Sandell 4 years, 4 months ago

Renee.....What other word would be better to use to describe a person who uses scissors to cut the neck of a born baby, in order to sever it's spinal cord?

Jonathan Nyp 4 years, 4 months ago

The Pro-Choice coalition has completely won. There is nowhere left to anchor the debate further left other than arguing for infanticide.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Charles K is full of crap. CK claims to be concerned about life yet endorses a Global War foreign policy.

Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination” (Very dangerous policy which threatens OUR freedoms and the nations security) http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global protection for Wal-Mart,Oil,Coca Cola,Pepsico,diamonds,gold etc etc etc

• we need to strengthen our ties to dictator regimes friendly to American interests and Bogus values;

• we need to promote the cause of the political right wing and economic rape for corp USA abroad;

• we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in forcing others to accept our corrupt principles.

Such a war mongering policy of military strength and immoral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the extortions of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness no matter how many innocent USA soldiers or babies die.

The Plan





The name Charles Krauthammer can be seen below as an endorser for for total global military domination.

Endorsed by:

Elliott Abrams / Gary Bauer / William J. Bennett / GHW Bush / GW Bush / Jeb Bush

Dick Cheney / Eliot A. Cohen / Midge Decter / Paula Dobriansky / Steve Forbes /

Aaron Friedberg / Francis Fukuyama / Frank Gaffney / Newt Gingrich / Fred C. Ikle /

Donald Kagan / Zalmay Khalilzad / Charles Krauthammer / I. Lewis Libby /

Richard Perle / Norman Podhoretz / Vice Adm John Poindexter / Dan Quayle /

Peter W. Rodman / Stephen P. Rosen / Henry S. Rowen / Donald Rumsfeld /

Vin Weber / George Weigel / Paul Wolfowitz

Beator 4 years, 4 months ago

You're slipping. You didn't mention Koch or ALEC. I wonder why this paper allows you to use it for your vented ideological rants?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Interesting you bring this up. The PNAC total war policy is protecting the oil industry with our tax dollars = Koch and ALEC while at the same time squashing life throughout the world.

Thanks for the reminder.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Planned Parenthood has likely prevented millions of abortions over time. Where's this conversation?

I speculate that more families in this country are pro-choice/pro life as demonstrated by the number of children in our families.

The pro life only organizations are pro abortion due to their insistence that birth control methods should not be made available except for abstaining. Abstaining is at the top of the list of birth control methods provided by way of Planned Parenthood.

The number of abortions has dropped substantially due likely to Planned Parenthood efforts to educate the nation on birth control.

Isn't killing doctors and blowing up buildings terrorism? Do members of this Pro Life movement actually believe God condones violent terrorism in any form?

Birth Control is abortion prevention absolutely. Sex Education is abortion prevention. Supporting No Birth Control and No Sex Education = more abortions.

How many know that Planned Parenthood is wayyyyy more than about abortion prevention? Planned Parenthood locations are more like medical clinics which offer a variety of medical services for both male and female. A great source for low income human beings.

Jonathan Nyp 4 years, 4 months ago

So you support keeping late term abortions legal? That is what this article is about. Not war, not foreign policy, not terrorism, ect.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Your spin is interesting.

Too many that are against the rights of women to make their own choices are also pro war which kills plenty of babies. And kills pregnant women which is also a form of abortion. War is a foreign policy.

Keeping late term abortions legal if necessary which can come about for a variety of medical reasons so what's wrong with that?

Isn't killing doctors and blowing up buildings terrorism? Do members of this Pro Life movement actually believe God condones violent terrorism in any form?

Taking a generally anti birth control position can potentially keep abortions numbers up.

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