The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Anti-abortion AND pro-choice?

A pal sent this my way, and I’m tossing it out for general perusal and discussion — particularly as it applies to a certain Catholic (or two) running for President.

Can you be anti-abortion, but also pro-choice?

See what Michael Medved has to say, from USA TODAY:

The battle for the Republican presidential nomination might serve to clear away prevailing confusion and contradictions about public opinion on abortion. Rudy Giuliani seeks the White House by reaching out to that majority of Americans who say they are pro-choice — and anti-abortion.


To most pro-lifers, this position represents an absurd contradiction. Along with their militant counterparts on the opposite side of the abortion issue, they’ve reduced the controversy to a simple, black-and-white choice: You’re either “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” with no room for compromise. On that basis, many religious conservatives denounce Giuliani as “pro-abortion” and threaten to withhold support if he heads the GOP ticket.

Unfortunately, anger toward the former mayor distorts his actual position on abortion. Like most Americans, Giuliani takes a mixed, nuanced approach that defies easy categorizations.

Consider, for instance, the key differences between Giuliani’s platform and those of the leading Democratic candidates. Giuliani has committed to preserve the Hyde Amendment, banning taxpayer money for abortions; the top Democrats urge repeal and favor federal funding. Giuliani applauded the recent Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion; all leading Democrats condemned it in harsh terms. The former mayor supports tougher rules requiring parental notification (with a judicial bypass) for underage girls who seek abortions; Clinton and Barack Obama oppose such legislation. Most significant of all, Giuliani has specifically cited strict-constructionists Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and John Roberts as his models for future justices of the Supreme Court — and all three of those jurists have signaled their support for allowing states more leeway in limiting abortions. The top Democrats regularly express contempt for the conservative jurists whom Giuliani admires, and worked against the Alito and Roberts nominations.


In other words, it’s a major distortion to label Giuliani as “pro-abortion” and indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton or the other Democrats. There’s considerable distance between all the Republican candidates — very much including Giuliani — and their Democratic rivals. It’s true that the other leading GOP contenders (Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, John McCain, Mike Huckabee) differ even more dramatically from the Democratic position than does Giuliani, and these distinctions signal the urgent need to move beyond the tired, simplistic “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice” classifications.

Candidates and voters should properly answer two questions about abortion:

* Are you pro-abortion or anti-abortion?
* Are you pro-choice or anti-choice?


On this matrix, all the Democrats would count as both pro-choice and pro-abortion: They consider “a woman’s right to choose” a sacred guarantee in the Constitution, they work closely with strident “abortion rights” organizations, and at the last Democratic Convention hundreds of participants wore T-shirts declaring their pride in their own past abortions.

Most important, Clinton and her colleagues may decry abortions as a “tragedy,” but they still favor the use of taxpayer money to pay for the procedure. In other words, they not only back government sanction for abortion, but also (unlike Giuliani) government sponsorship.

On the other hand, nearly all the Republican candidates are both anti-abortion and anti-choice: They not only characterize abortion as immoral, but they also want legal bans on the procedure except in special circumstances, such as threats to the life of the mother.


Among the major candidates, only Giuliani stands in the middle: identifying a position that is, in fact, simultaneously anti-abortion and pro-choice. He backs policies designed to discourage or even sharply limit abortion, and he opposes the use of public money for abortions, while leaving final decisions to women and their doctors in most circumstances.

Check out the original item for more, including polling data on how voters feel on the issue.

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posted October 26, 2007 at 12:34 am

Cool it down a notch on turning “The Deacon’s Bench” into a political forum.Your annotated report of the USA Today Medved piece should just have been called what is was: a not-so-subtle attempt at endorsing Guiliani and bashing all the Democrats in the race.I am a Catholic with a firm belief in Cardinal Bernardin’s consistent ethic of life position. I abhor abortion, capital punishment, war, and all the other “anti-life” issues. But I believe that all citizens have the free will to arrive at an informed conscience.I pray constantly for those whom I believe are pro-life as well as pro-choice. I don’t see the difficulty reconciling the two.

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