Former President Donald J. Trump tripped himself up on one major issue in his Meet the Press interview. In the same interview in which he teased the naming of a female running mate, Trump made a statement on abortion that struck many conservative influencers with alarm. To Kristen Welker, he said Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) had made “a horrible mistake” by pressing for, and signing into law, a ban on abortion after six weeks. That position is not going to win him any friends on the left, and could lose him a critical level of support on the right. Donald Trump made the best difference any President has made on abortion, by appointing the Justices who overturned Roe. But if he thinks he can “make a deal” that will satisfy both sides, he’s mistaken. Instead he should own the issue, and press toward its logical conclusion.
How Trump blew the gaffe on abortion
Trump granted this interview last week, for airing on Sunday. In it, Kristin Welker said specifically she wanted to delineate his exact position on abortion. But she also took a tone that indicated she wanted at least to have a State to flee to, where she could “take care” of a “problem” that might results from a night of intimate contact with, say, a source – or a colleague. The NBC Interactive Abortion Map, as of August 23, 2023, shows twenty-five States (and the District of Columbia) where abortion is “legal and/or protected.” A federal law – or Human Life Amendment, or decision by this Supreme Court or a future Court – that bans abortion, would force the Kristin Welkers of our country to go overseas to “take care” of “the problem.” (As portrayed in the 1970 movie Airport).
Not to worry, Trump seemed to say. Even before he decried the DeSantis 6-week ban as “a horrible mistake,” he spoke of negotiating an acceptable time limit. Furthermore he spoke of weeks and months.
Dr. Steve Turley assured his followers that Trump simply hesitated to propound a stance requiring advanced “spiritual maturity.” (And yes, CNAV has called for a New American Awakening to address this and other subjects.) But Brandon Tatum specifically warned against any compromise on abortion.
His warning is timely, for at least two salient reasons.
The two Party Overton Windows do not overlap
Joseph Overton famously defined a window of discourse containing policy views that a population – or segment – would call acceptable. Any option falling outside such an Overton Window, the population would reject and refuse even to talk about.
Joseph Overton was thinking mainly of policy proposals acceptable to a general population. But today he might define policy proposals acceptable within a major Party rank and file. Trump should know by now that, on many issues, the American electorate has polarized itself severely. In Overton’s terms, the Republican and Democratic Overton Windows on most areas of public policy do not overlap. And they haven’t overlapped since Obama in 2008. “We will fundamentally transform America!” he boasted, and then proceeded to alienate everyone who voted against him. “I won. Deal with it. Elections have consequences.” Obama said all these things, and meant them. One can see this overlap failure on several issues, but abortion is the salient issue at hand.
Abortion – who wants it and why
Those on the side favoring abortion – and yes, they do favor abortion, whether they admit it or not – fall into three major categories. Some want it as a convenient option, so they can avoid responsibility for adultery and fornication. Others want to “con” certain segments of the population into eliminating themselves by attrition. Margaret Sanger famously held that attitude toward non-whites and the intellectually challenged. Bill Gates holds that toward everyone but himself and his close associates.
Still others want the law to permit abortion because that is how they earn their living. And some want abortion because they derive a primary gain from it. COVID vaccines, for example, contain cells from aborted children. And a very confidential source has informed CNAV that nearly all free-standing abortion clinics have special rooms where practitioners of occult arts may collect “products of conception” for their spellcasting and other needs.
The typical voter knows nothing of these attitudes, beyond the convenience angle. But those on the front lines know those attitudes well. That is why their positions are stark and unyielding.
Listen to abortionists when they converse. Why do they balk at informed consent, and insist on performing gruesome procedures, or doing abortions for sex selection? Actually they know what they’re doing is wrong, and resent other people pointing that out.
And why, as Delano Squires points out in Blaze, do “black politicians, journalists, entertainers, academics, and civil rights leaders” let Planned Parenthood con them into supporting their own extermination?
On the side of life
Not all of them do. Larry Elder, Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears (R-Va.), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) certainly do not. For that they receive as much vitriol as does Justice Clarence Thomas. Recall: Justice Thomas did not write the Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. His colleague Sam Alito did that. But Thomas wrote a supporting concurrence, hinting at a desire to take Alito’s logic further.
Then again, Thomas sees a danger in results-oriented jurisprudence that his detractors don’t see. That kind of results orientation gave us Dred Scott v. Sandford, a decision that caused the War Between the States.
Gov. DeSantis, for his part, has not let the issue rest. He expressed his support for Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who has been Senatorially blocking military promotions. Tuberville will let up only when the Pentagon stops giving the Air Mobility Command the mission of being an “abortion tourist airline.” DeSantis pledged that, if he becomes President, he will rescind that “mission.”
At the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition banquet, DeSantis said:
What the Defense Department is doing is against the law. By using tax dollars to pay for abortion tourism, they are breaking the law. I can tell you that as soon as I become president, that program will be thrown away where it belongs.
The law to which DeSantis refers is, of course, the Hyde Amendment, that forbids taxpayer funding for abortions. Paying for transport to a jurisdiction that allows abortion is effectively the same as paying for the procedure. Money is fungible.
Now consider the case of a pregnant woman whose doctors informed her she had brain cancer. The doctors said, “Get an abortion.” She said, “No.” A year later, both are alive.
You don’t have to be a person of faith…
In fact, a position against abortion does not require a profession of a “pro-life faith.” (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all qualify, each to a different degree and for different reasons.) Nat Hentoff explained in 2009 how he, an atheist, changed his mind about the procedure. At first, everyone around him was “pro-choice,” and he accepted that as only logical. But! Sometimes an abortion fails, and the baby is born alive. What happens to such a baby? In the all too typical case, the medical personnel hide it away until it starves! The infamous Kenneth Edelin did worse: he would cut the cord and watch the clock until the baby suffocated.
That made Hantoff start to think. And when he read a medical textbook whose authors explicitly described the unborn child as a unique patient, he capitulated.
The concept that the fetus is a patient, an individual (with a DNA distinct from everyone else’s), whose maladies are a proper subject for medical treatment … is alarmingly modern. … Only now are we beginning to consider the fetus seriously—medically, legally, and ethically. Harrison, Golbus and Filly, The Unborn Patient: Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment
And that’s from an atheistic, or at least an agnostic, viewpoint. Here’s an interesting Christian perspective Hentoff was around to hear when its proponent first shared it:
There are those who argue that the [woman’s] right to privacy is of a higher order than the right of life. That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence of slaves on the plantation because that was private [property] and therefore outside of your right to be concerned. The Rev. Jesse Jackson
Jackson switched sides when he sought the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1988. Colman McCarthy’s piece in The Washington Post does not describe how or why Jackson changed his position. Did he do it out of political convenience? Or did some World Economic Forum wheel “get to” him? Remarkably, under the very policy Jackson champions today, he never would have been born.
Where we are today
The Two Reverends Jackson illustrate better than any other case that negotiation on abortion is simply not possible. Whether he acted sincerely or not, Ron DeSantis made no mistake. Abortion kills – and no less an authority than Justice Sam Alito said so.
A President must lead – and a Presidential candidate must lead also. Most of Donald J. Trump’s positions are the right positions on the issues they involve. His current position on abortion, as he stated it to Kristin Welker, is not one of them.
During his tenure in office, he replaced one Constitutional originalist with another, replaced one moderate with a moderate conservative, and replaced one unapologetic liberal with a moderate conservative. Those nominations gave us Dobbs, and other truly great decisions. Now he should pledge, as he seeks to return to the office he held, to carry Dobbs further. That includes appointing another originalist, especially if Justice Thomas, now senior to the rest, falls ill. It also includes defending life as life requires.
Remember: the Overton Windows of the two Parties do not overlap – not on abortion, they don’t. Trump must therefore choose one or the other. And he must choose quickly – or jeopardize his current commanding, indeed majority, lead.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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