Sunday, November 9, 2008

REBUILDING THE GOP

With the stunning victory of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party now a page in the American history book, the talking heads on television have begun to ask whether and how the Republican Party can rise from the ashes.

I have my own theory.

The Republican Party was born under an oak tree in Jackson, Michigan. It was a convocation of people brought together by their common conviction that slavery was wrong and should be abolished.

At its inception, the Republican Party occupied the high moral ground. It was the party of principle, the party of hope, the party that appealed to the noblest aspirations of the American people. It was the party of freedom, of human dignity, of equality, of justice. Its opposition to slavery defined its view of life and underscored its political mission.

The Republican Party can be the party of Abraham Lincoln again. It can be the party of principle. It can occupy the high moral ground.

The issue of abortion separates the Republican and Democratic Parties. It is the most visible and controversial of the various issues that relate to the value and sacredness of human life. The Republican Party needs candidates who will debate the abortion issue; candidates who will talk about the scientific, social, political, and community aspects of abortion.

The Democrats have rather successfully tried to make abortion a religious issue. They insist that opposition to the abortion culture represents an attempt to impose a standard of morality not accepted by many Americans.

Too many Republicans have been taken in by the liberal media’s claim that a majority of Americans support the ‘pro choice’ position. They have fallen for the notion that the Republican Party needs to become a big tent with room for the pro abortion crowd.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The majority of the American people do not support abortion on demand. They do not support abortion as an alternate means of birth control. They are ‘pro choice’ only in the sense that they believe that abortion may sometimes be medically indicated; that a woman who chooses to have an abortion is more to be pitied than punished.

Even the advocates of choice support some abortion bans. They happily support laws forbidding abortion by persons not licensed to practice medicine. The Supreme Court, in Roe V Wade, talks about a woman and her doctor deciding on abortion. The pro choice crowd would be quick to condemn the choice of having one’s boy friend perform the abortion.

I pose this hypothetical question: Should a man be prosecuted for the murder of his Siamese twin brother? Most people answer in the negative. Why? Because the act is perceived as tantamount to suicide.

Do we prosecute people for suicide? Hardly. The defendant is dead by definition. Do we prosecute people for attempted suicide? It may fit the definition of attempted homicide, but we don’t treat it as a crime. Why not? Simply because society assumes that suicide is not a rational act and therefore the perpetrator-victim is not criminally responsible.

In the same way, women who had or attempted to have abortions before Roe v Wade were not prosecuted. The Michigan statute, still on the books, MCL 750.14, provides:

"Administering drugs, etc., with intent to procure miscarriage: Any person who shall willfully administer to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug, substance or thing whatever, or shall employ any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of any such woman, unless the same shall have been necessary to preserve the life of such woman, shall be guilty of a felony, and in case the death of such pregnant woman be thereby produced, the offense shall be deemed manslaughter."

As can be seen, the law applies only to the person causing the abortion, not to the pregnant woman. The life saving exception was always in the Michigan law, as, no doubt it was in other state laws.

The oath of Hippocrates, written in 400 BC and traditionally recited by physicians since then, contains these words:

"I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion."

In truth, the ban on abortion is a regulation of the medical profession. In that light, the debate over when human life begins is irrelevant. If the fetus is normal, healthy, human tissue, a physician should be called to explain the medical necessity for its removal.

If a surgeon removed a patient’s thumb, it would not satisfy the hospital’s tissue committee for him to explain that the patient requested the procedure. It would probably not do to explain that the patient was given to sucking the thumb, thus causing his front teeth to protrude and that the amputation was necessary to protect the patient’s smile.

Society has a vital stake in the next generation. Human beings are what comprise communities and nations. That is why every organized human society, from the most elemental tribes to the most sophisticated states exercises some form of control over the process of human reproduction.

Bill Clinton got himself elected in 1992 by proclaiming, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Perhaps the Republicans will someday return to power by reminding Americans that it’s all about the family.

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