Lincoln * Institute

Dr. Paul Kengor

Dr. Paul Kengor

Executive Director
Center for Vision & Values
at Grove City College


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Kengor's Corner

Safe, Legal and Rare?

by Paul Kengor

The common mantra of pro-choice politicians is that they do not favor abortion. Quite the contrary, they want abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare." Pro-choicers generally hold to this position; thus, as they are quick to note, they are not "pro-abortion" but "pro-choice."

I've personally tried to respect that formulation, and typically refrain from referring to pro-choicers as "pro-abortion." That being the case, the latest actions by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice are deeply troubling, as are the promises of the incoming president, both of which go hand-in-hand. Let me explain.

RCRC is a coalition of religious groups and denominations that support legalized abortion. The group comes to this view from a range of religious backgrounds, from Christian to Jewish to Unitarian Universalist. Though the vast majority of Christian denominations firmly reject RCRC and its teachings, some mainline denominations have formally joined the coalition's "pro-choice" gospel, including the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, Barack Obama's United Church of Christ, and several Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) groups.

At this time of year, as millions of American Christians mark the moment that God entered the world as a baby in a manger, RCRC is pushing president-elect Barack Obama to enact the most radical abortion agenda in the history of humanity.

It began with RCRC's elation over Obama's election. The group immediately sent out a press release to congratulate this "pro-choice man of faith." "[Obama's] message that 'America is one nation' holds great promise for defusing the culture wars over abortion that have too often distracted us," stated RCRC. "We urge President-elect Obama to be a Pro-Faith, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice president: to uphold Roe v. Wade and reproductive choice, [and] foster respect for diverse views about abortion."

And how might RCRC suggest that Obama defuse the culture wars and the bitter divide over abortion? How does RCRC recommend that Obama show his "respect for diverse views about abortion?"

RCRC encourages Obama to plow full steam ahead with, in effect, unrestricted abortion-on-demand at all stages of pregnancy, aided and abetted by taxpayer funding, with abortion promotion at home and abroad, and, possibly–albeit unbelievably–with the stunning elimination of freedom-of-conscience exemptions for medical personnel who choose not to participate in abortion procedures.

Specifically, RCRC is exhorting Obama to make good on his July 17, 2007 promise to Planned Parenthood and sign the Freedom of Choice Act. FOCA, as readers of my past columns know, would nationalize abortion and overturn countless reasonable abortion restrictions agreed to by bipartisan legislatures–Democrats and Republicans working together–all over America. It would be the single most significant step in likely launching unrestricted federal funding of abortion at all stages of pregnancy. Obama told Planned Parenthood that signing FOCA would be the "first thing" he would do as president.

FOCA is disturbing in so many ways. Most shocking, however, is the fear that FOCA would eliminate conscience exemptions enabling doctors and nurses to not participate in abortion procedures. This is a classic American tradition, and it is truly breathtaking to imagine that some abortion-rights supporters are so radical and so uncharitable that they could even consider something so coercive. The Catholic bishops in particular are aghast at this prospect; they would shut down the nation's huge number of Catholic hospitals before submitting to this madness.

Yet, RCRC wants FOCA. But it doesn't stop there. The letter also urges Obama to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which, as aptly puts it, "prohibits the direct funding of almost all abortions and is credited with stopping hundreds of thousands of abortions since the 1970s."

If it stopped there, FOCA's recommendations would be devastating enough, but the group wants its vision to go global. The letter presses Obama to repeal the Mexico City policy that, beginning with President Reagan, spares American taxpayers from funding groups that perform or promote abortion overseas. Similarly, RCRC wants Obama to fund the U.N. Population Fund's (UNFPA's) odious population-control agenda.

If RCRC gets what it is urging from Obama–which it likely will, since Obama favors these things and campaigned on them–abortion would skyrocket. RCRC's actions constitute abortion promotion. This goes far beyond the mantra of "safe, legal, and rare." It goes way past the mere legalization of abortion enshrined in 1973 by Roe v. Wade. It also flies in the face of the standard pro-choice position that "I'm personally opposed to abortion, and would never support it myself, but I think it should be legal."

That's not what's happening here. People who voted that way on Nov. 4, 2008 actually voted, whether they know it or not, for pro-lifers like me to begin paying for abortions through my tax dollars. Their vote was not morally neutral; in fact, their vote will help generate a boom cycle for abortion clinics.

If President Obama goes through with this unprecedented promotion of abortion, then pro-choicers will need to amend their mantra. The new slogan will need to be "safe, legal, rare–and subsidized, and promoted, and without freedom of conscience …."

Paul Kengor is author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (HarperPerennial, 2007) and professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision Values. His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).