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Has the In$titutionalized Pro-Life Been a Manifest Failure Through Steadfast Repubnik Loyalty? September 20, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, Basics, contraception, disconcerting, error, General Catholic, It's all about the $$$, rank stupidity, sadness, scandals, self-serving, Society.

So says Leon H. Wolf in a piece at RedState, which, it must be said, tries to tie what I agree is a general trend towards failure by the institutionalized pro-life movement into an anti-Trump screed.  I’ve read few sites that have been more reliably Never Trump, so keep that in mind.

I’ll cut and paste a bit of the article below, but while I think the author has a major point, I think he also errs substantially in 1) trying to parlay the “Republicans have always abused you” argument into “You’re a sucker if you vote for Trump” and 2) his general bashing of the pro-life movement for being steadfast Republican homers.  For instance, was the same author just as exercised against pro-life orgs support for Mitt Romney, who had just as inconsistent record on abortion as Trump?  If not, why not?  Secondly, where else were pro-lifers supposed to go over the past 40 years, even as the Repubniks did, admittedly, repeatedly screw them over?

Ergo, I think this piece is a lot more about hating on Trump than really having something to say regarding the pro-life movement. YMMV.

Having said that, if you want to bash the in$$titutionalized  pro-life movement for being ineffective and probably more concerned with keeping fundraising going than really ending abortion, you’ll get little argument from me.  As for the rest, see what you think:

Personally, I have reached the point that I am fed up with these organizations. They have been, by and large, total failures in holding politicians accountable. When is the last time you can recall that a pro-life group claimed the scalp of any of the dozens if not hundreds of Republicans who have betrayed the pro-life cause over the years? It has not happened and it does not happen. [Well, is that the point of being a pro-life group, to claim Republican scalps?  They’ve claimed a number of democrats, which is not unimportant.  I agree most pro-life groups far too slavishly tote the mainstream Republican line, but what mainstream conservative commentators have ever called for a mass pro-life turning against Republican politicians who have somehow betrayed the cause? That is, until the Republican nominee somehow threatened the interests of these same mainstream commentators. I follow pro-life events quite closely, and I can’t remember more than a handful of such calls, all at the state or local level, never national.Why now?]

………These orgs are all carrot, no stick. They are happy to go out and encourage people to elect more Republicans, elect more Republicans, vote Republican for President in particular. Meanwhile, 7 of the 9 judges who decided Roe v. Wade were appointed by Republicans. Roe v. Wade would not have survived throughout all these years without Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter – all nominated by Republicans and confirmed with the unanimous consent of Senate Republicans. At no point has anyone ever paid a political price for this. So pro-life orgs set their sights on a series of incremental legislative changes to the abortion regime at the state level, which have systematically been thrown out by judges who were appointed and confirmed by Republicans – and again, no one has paid a political price for any of this. You could hardly ask for a more useful set of stooges for the RNC. [Again, who has been advocating for this?  I think it’s a good idea, and if this is to be a start of a movement to get the pro-life movement to hold Republicans far more accountable for their lack of support for pro-life matters, I’m all for it, but as an argument simply to not support Trump, because now’s the time to start punishing R’s for lack of pro-life commitment?  I don’t get it.  Why not start with some of the most egregious House and Senate members, and go from there?  How about we try to get a turncoat like Lindsay Graham driven from office, rather than start at the highest office?  Or was this all just about self-justification?  Which, if so, fine, but say so, don’t try to cloak it in some supposed larger-than-self virtue]

………I don’t know what it is about these groups that makes them totally unable to state the obvious: that pro-lifers are being played for suckers by the GOP, which has no intention of ever allowing Roe v. Wade to be overturned. [I thought Trump was an insurrection against the establishment GOP and largely despised by people like the author?  So how does supporting him make people suckers for the GOPe?]  After all, if it were, how would they scare the evangelicals into voting for the Donald Trumps of the future? [Well, I do wonder if there still isn’t some massive play going on, where, just as conservative were lured to vote for the non-conservative Romney in 2012 (after which many said never again), they are somehow being lured to vote for the non-conservative Trump in 2016.  That all depends, I suppose, on how much sincerity one think Trump has.] The professional pro-life orgs are too scared to say this, and to admit that everything they have done for the last 40 years to this point has been an abject failure, because doing so might cause their donor money to dry up. So they continue to play the willing sucker again and again and at no point has it been more evident than their embrace of Trump this year. [I think this guy is getting a bit carried away in fervor to make his point. I don’t think the pro-life movement has been an abject, meaning total, failure over the past 40 years.  Successes have been small, and too rare, but they have occurred.  What awesome, unique cultural forces has the pro-life movement faced, that, say, someone supporting tighter immigration controls hasn’t faced, like, virtually all Americans defining their lives around the use of contraception?  Have those had an effect?]

………If you believe that Trump has actual pro-life principles or that he will honor any sort of pledge to only appoint pro-life justices, then you have to be one of the most monumental suckers who has ever lived…… [Again, this is really inconsistent. Somehow he is tarring Trump the outsider as being part of the GOPe that has so failed pro-lifers.  But Trump could actually be perceived as the very reaction this guy seeks, though not in the way he seeks it, agreeing with his preferences.  That is to say, many pro-lifers, agreeing that the GOPe has used and abused them for decades, are now willing to take a flyer on the extremely dubious Trump, who is at least better than the same old same old that has betrayed them over and over.  Again, did this guy advocate the pro-lifers finally punish the GOPe who gave us the pro-abort Romney in 2012?  If not, then it’s not serious, it’s more NeverTrumpism] 

………..Will there ever come a point – and I do mean, literally ever, where the professional pro-life orgs throw up their hands and say, “You know what? We are sick of being played for fools by the Republican Party. They must be actually opposed until they change their ways.” And if that day is ever supposed to come, why not now? If the Trump Farce isn’t enough to make them say “no mas,” then what will be?

The more I read this piece, the more unnerved I became.  At the end, I no longer took it seriously as cri d’couer to the pro-life movement, but just another NeverTrumper seeking to justify his refusal to vote for Trump, and using some pretty ugly psychology on pro-lifers to try to sway them away from Trump, basically ending with calling pro-lifers stupid inbred mouth-breathing flyover dolts who don’t know what’s good for them when we tell them!

Which kind of smug superiority explains at least half of Trump’s support among conservatives in a nutshell.  They are sick of being betrayed, they are sick of being lied to, they feel they have nothing to lose at this point, and so, why not give a total outsider, even one like Trump, a shot?  At least he kneecaps cultural marxism on an almost daily basis, and seems to have a near Reaganesque quality to deflect all the media’s attempts to destroy him.  Historically, how would the pro-life movement been better off if it had abandoned Republicans for…..what?  What alternative was there?  Even the examples he cites in his piece for successful “punishments” of Republican politicians who fell afoul of this special interest in the conservative base or that were only individual House members, never the presidential candidate, let alone an abandonment of an entire party!  I think the author may have tipped his hand as to what he plans to do should Trump win……..

Telling these folks what stupid idiots they are for supporting Trump smells a lot more like sour grapes and deep fear of diminishing influence than it does anything else.

Look, I never have liked Trump. But I have no alternative but to vote for him at this point, because he is the best of a damnably weak field (at least in my state). I see no point in attacking him.  He’s the nominee, he’s not going to give us an out by dropping out of the race (it was never going to happen), and it looks like he’s going to be quite competitive.  I cannot understand, then, what purpose attacking him or those who support him serves, at this point, at least outside individual self-interest.

Which is a shame, because I think the original point of the piece, that the institutional pro-life movement, especially at the national level, has sold out, is dead on.

What do you think?

h/t reader good ‘ol MFG, who sends so many thought-provoking pieces

PS – At this point, I find any “pro-lifer” who isn’t also completely, totally anti-contraception to be unworthy of the name.



1. Guy mcclung - September 20, 2016

Texas Right To Life is the exception to your rule. TRTL has some bloody tomahawks, bloody with the blood of PLINO republicans. (Pro life in name only). Also TRTL has and will ramrod the passage of powerful pro life legislation – which is the model for other states. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

Tantumblogo - September 20, 2016

I’ve mentioned TRL as being different many times in the past. As such, I did not feel the necessity of doing so again in this post.

2. Richard Malcolm - September 20, 2016

I agree that – while it is true that there is too much in the way of calcification in the pro-life institutional movement – he’s not giving enough credit for the successes that *have* happened. A lot of legislation at the state level – hundreds of laws – incrementally hacking away at the abortion regime has been passed thanks largely to these groups. That should not be overlooked,

3. Richard Malcolm - September 20, 2016

As for the judges:

1. “Meanwhile, 7 of the 9 judges who decided Roe v. Wade were appointed by Republicans. Roe v.”

This is rather unfair. Roe v Wade was decided in 1973. Which was not only before the emergence of the modern pro-life movement (for all intents and purposes), it was also before social conservatives had much in the way of meaningful influence in the GOP. It was 7 years before Reagan, and the establishment was still dominated by Northeastern Rockefeller Republicans. As a result, ideological and jurisprudential criteria had very limited roles in the nomination of federal judges. The 6 justices in the pro-Roe majority were an even split of Eisenhower and Nixon appointees – neither presidents thought of as “movement conservatives,” even as pretenders.

2. “Wade would not have survived throughout all these years without Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter.”

This is a fairer criticism. It should be said, though that Kennedy was only on the Court because the Senate had mau-maued and rejected Robert Bork (who would have been a clear vote against Roe) and knocked out Douglas Ginsberg as well, and Reagan was running out of time to find a nominee he could get on the Court. Reagan takes full blame for O’Connor, and likewise Bush for Souter – though it seems the failure there was a failure to properly vet them, since both presidents came to regret those picks in some ways (Souter especially).

George W Bush, to his credit, had a team that took vetting more seriously, and to the extent that there is any resistance on the federal bench to the sexual jacobin agenda, its core rests among his appointees. Certainly they’ll be more reliable than anything Trump is likely to nominate, to say nothing of Hillary.

Tantumblogo - September 20, 2016

He’s very incorrect that in Roe v. Wade 7 justices were nominated by Republicans. Thurgood Marshall, Byron White, William Douglas were nominated by dems. So it was 6-3, same as Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which is a much better example of how Republican-nominated judges have kept and solidified abortion in law.

Richard Malcolm - September 20, 2016

Actually, Casey was 5-4, not 6-3. So yes, Kennedy was the deciding vote. The four votes to strike Roe were Rehnquist (R), Scalia (R), Thomas (R), and White (D). Of course, the five who voted to sustain the right were all Republican appointees.

Of the 7 justices in Roe’s majority, 5 were Republican appointees – I missed that slightly. The two dissenters were Rehnquist (R) and White (D).

What this really shows is just thoroughly penetrated by liberal activism the elite legal world, especially in legal academia, had become by mid-century. A president determined to resist that really had to go far out of his way to identify like-minded jurists, who until the last generation were few and far between. Ike and Nixon certainly did not appreciate that; and even Reagan and Bush I did not realize it as fully as they could have.

When you lose the cultural high ground so thoroughly, accomplishing anything on the political front is always going to be an uphill struggle. You’re running with lead weights around your ankles.

Tantumblogo - September 20, 2016

Casey was a miserable decision, badly split. But you’re right that in the major portion of the decision (there were changing majorities/pluralities depending on which part of the decision one looks at) was 5-4, not 6-3. My bad. And two Catholics voted in favor of keeping abortion legal, Kennedy and O’Connor.

Tantumblogo - September 20, 2016

Here’s a conspiracy theory: Souter wasn’t a “mistake” by Bush, but was chosen specifically to be a stealth candidate to keep abortion legal. Discuss.

Richard Malcolm - September 21, 2016

If Souter was a conspiracy, it was (a) a well kept one, since the story has consistently been that Sununu sold him on it sight unseen (which doesn’t mean that the secret is not just really well kept); and (b) it was a hideously expensive way to keep Roe legal, since Souter was 100% liberal across the board on every issue, from commerce clause on down. Which included Bush v Gore (not that Poppa Bush could foresee that exactly).

Better to pick a guy like Kennedy, who would often vote “your way,” just not on sexual liberty stuff.

Tantumblogo - September 21, 2016

Alright, I consider my theory not just shot down, but shot to pieces.

Touche’, good sir!

4. Dismas - September 21, 2016

Without going into great detail I’ll just say that I have found the Catholic institutional pro-life groups to be a waste of time. I’m not concerned about local exceptions here and there. In statistics they are known as “outliers.” They don’t define reality.

My money goes to the Thomas More Society, which defends in civil court many of the truly brave pro-life warriors.

5. Jackist - September 21, 2016

As a pro-life Democrat, I think the pro-life movement’s allegiance to the Republican Party has been a major strategic mistake. White liberals are the ones driving the abortion agenda and, if the black and latino democrats had stayed opposed to abortion, the political landscape would have been very different. However, the pro-life movement left the pro-life wing of the Democratic party out to dry while liberals funneled cash to pro-choice primary challengers. Nonetheless, even today, 40% of Texas Democratic primary voters lean pro-life, and Wendy Davis got crushed in the Valley by a pro-life candidate in the primary. If the pro-life movement was serious, it would play in both camps. By focusing on the Republicans, it has been marginalized.

c matt - September 21, 2016

That is true to some extent, and more likely locally as you point out. It does present a chicken-n-egg problem though. Dems never run pro-lifers for national office, and Pro-lifers theoretically won’t vote for pro-aborts. So who gives in first? I suppose if you had a pro-life democrat run for state-wide office, say in Texas, and said candidate won, and after years of competently carrying out the duties of office, said candidate then went for a national office, then maybe. Say, for example, a pro-life Dem attorney general, who then runs for Senate or Congress.

Richard Malcolm - September 21, 2016

“As a pro-life Democrat, I think the pro-life movement’s allegiance to the Republican Party has been a major strategic mistake.”

In fairness to the pro-lifers of old, most really felt they had no place left to go but the GOP.

We have to remember that if it is true that both parties still operated in a conservative, nominally Christian moral climate before the Asteroid hit in the 60’s, it was really the Democratic Party that embodied the most socially conservative impulses – which is precisely why its key support cohorts included both white evangelical southerners and urban ethnic Catholics. Republican leaders tended to be commerce-minded Yankees, favoring limited government but also limited fecundity, especially by all those disreputable Catholic immigrants from Europe.

All that was swept away in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The Democratic Party came to be increasingly dominated by secular liberals (who favored the Sexual Revolution and identity politics), and the new DNC rules changes put in place by 1972 accelerated that. And this left most religious conservatives with the growing sense that they were without a home.

Perhaps they should have fought harder to keep a presence in the Democratic Party. At the time, though, that seemed like a daunting prospect to many. I think all their options at that point were problematic, honestly. It’s just that we can see how problematic the decision to embrace the Republican Party at the time of Reagan turned out to be.

6. c matt - September 21, 2016

To the topic at hand – seems the guy has it all bass ackwards. He complains the GOP establishment screws PLers, but when an anti-establishment candidate actually makes it through the GOP meat grinder, and has all the right people po’ed, he says NOW is the time to show the “establishment” by not voting for the candidate they hate?!?! WTF?

Richard Malcolm - September 21, 2016

The problem is that the anti-establishment candidate that has just made it through the meat-grinder is NOT one that either comes from our milieu or shares our sectarian premises. If you were looking for that guy, he would be . . . well, someone like Pat Buchanan. Trump is coming from somewhere else. Just because he opposes the establishment as much as we do does NOT mean he shares our beliefs and objectives.

But Trump is not Pat Buchanan, though he seems to share some of his outlook on things like trade and immigration. Trump doesn’t give a damn about abortion or religious freedom, and his entire adult life has been either a blithe indifference (at best) and a living repudiation (at worst) of all of these principles. Now, it may well be that as such, Trump may well be better for our agenda in aggregate than Hillary, because he’s not beholden to an agenda aimed directly and energetically at our destruction (or at least complete marginalization). But it also does not mean he’s one of us, either.

7. MFG - September 21, 2016

The narrative worth discussing which he implicitly touches on is: Is ending Roe vs. Wade the only means to end abortion in our country?

This seems to be the lens which our pro-life strategy focuses on. From that aspect I think we’ve not only failed but barring a miracle seems impossible to reverse after 40 years.

Instead I wonder if God is showing us in 2016 that focusing on presidential politics is futile when we should be focusing at the city level instead. If we had 2,000 people in front of PP daily would it remain open?

8. David - September 22, 2016

MFG makes a good point. How many people give lip service to the Pro Life movement, but have never taken the time to stand in front of an abortuary (I admit the first time I did was in 2004 and I was scared, but I did it], or visit a home for unwed mothers? Action speaks louder than words.

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