What should social conservatives do if Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination for President? The major issue here is abortion. Giuliani is pro-choice, but I am emphatically pro-life. Here is how I have thought through the dilemma.
Government’s primary responsibility is to protect the people it serves. Without protection from threats to our lives and property, society would not be possible. Everything else government does is subordinate to this end. That is one reason among many that I trust Republicans to lead us better than Democrats. Republicans take terrorism seriously. Democrats (like John Edwards, for example) call the war on terror a “bumper sticker.”
One way that our government has failed miserably to protect the weakest among us has been by allowing the barbaric practice of abortion on demand to go on for over thirty years now. Abortion is the second most common surgical procedure in the country, behind circumcision. Every day, thousands of innocent lives are taken. This kind of bloodshed is the greatest moral blight on our nation throughout its history, even worse than the slave trade. Abortion is not one political issue among many. It is the greatest moral battle of our time.
But what should we do when faced with one pro-choice candidate versus another pro-choice candidate? Should we stay home on election day? Should we vote for a pro-life, third-party candidate? Should we bite the bullet and vote for the lesser of two evils? I think we should begin by understanding that there are not just two positions on abortion. There is a whole spectrum of positions. I have invented a labeling system A1 through A7 to describe what I perceive to be various approaches to the issue of abortion.
A1–Abortion is a moral good for society. It should be celebrated, promoted, and funded through tax dollars. Abortionists are heroes who help women in crisis. In some cases (such as a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome), the only morally acceptable choice for a pregnant woman is to end her pregnancy.
A2–Abortion is morally acceptable. It is a private choice between a woman and her doctor. Government should make no restrictions on it, but neither should government fund it through tax dollars.
A3–Abortion is morally wrong. However, government should not restrict it, just as government does not restrict other activities normally considered immoral (adultery, for example). However, certain practices (like partial birth abortion) should be outlawed by the federal government.
A4–Abortion is morally wrong. Any government restrictions on it should be decided on a state-by-state basis.
A5–Abortion is morally wrong. The federal government should outlaw it except in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.
A6–Abortion is morally wrong. The federal government should outlaw it all cases except when the mother’s life is at risk.
A7–Abortion is morally wrong under absolutely all circumstances. The federal government should outlaw it completely.
My own position is A6. If I understand Giuliani correctly, his position is A3. Personally, he considers abortion to be an immoral practice, but he does not believe the government should outlaw it. Giuliani is wrong on this. The government should protect the lives of the unborn every bit as much as it protects the lives of the born. On what basis does the government decide that some human beings are worthy of protection, whereas others are not? Abortion is not a private decision between a woman and her doctor. There are three parties involved, and the one scheduled to get his skull crushed has no say in the matter.
Having said that, I believe we are in a political battle in which we must expect incremental progress. We have seen it during Bush’s presidency. President Clinton vetoed two bills that would have outlawed partial-birth abortion in the 1990’s. President Bush signed a similar bill into law, and the Roberts court (which Bush shaped by nominating Roberts and Alito) upheld the law. As of now, partial birth abortion has been ended. That is progress.
I believe that, given where we are now, a Giuliani presidency would be likely to bring progress to the pro-life cause. And if not progress, it would at least hold us where we are now and keep us from losing ground. Giuliani says he will appoint strict constructionist judges to the courts. At this point in history, the courts are the primary battlefield in the war over life. The next President will likely have the opportunity to swing the Supreme Court decisively in one direction or another through his/her judicial appointments. If we have another Clinton (or an Obama, or an Edwards) in office, then we can expect more left-wing extremists like Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be nominated to the Court. If we have Giuliani in office, then we can be hopeful for more people like Roberts and Alito.
I doubt that any of the Democratic candidates for President would openly proclaim the A1 position. They know that it is a hot-button issue, and they want to remain comfortably pro-choice without sounding like they are crazy about abortion. But the Democratic Party is in league with left-wing groups that do openly proclaim the A1 position. Planned Parenthood is just one example. And if any Democrat gets into the White House, you can be sure that groups like Planned Parenthood will exert political pressure to push their agenda. Giuliani is not in league with Planned Parenthood or any group like that. He is on record as having contributed to the organization, but one of his former wives did that without his knowledge, if I understand correctly (of course, that is just one more example of how poor a family man he has been; if your wife is giving money to organizations that you find morally suspect, something is wrong with your marriage). I believe that, if Giuliani gets the nomination, the pro-life cause should tolerate him for eight years. That will be much better for the unborn than four-to-eight years of another Clinton presidency.
Let me reiterate: Giuliani is wrong about abortion, but he is not as wrong as the Democrats and the left-wing groups that support them. If it comes down to Giuliani vs. Clinton, Obama, or Edwards, I will vote for Giuliani rather than staying home or voting for a third-party candidate. In politics we must compromise, and I would rather compromise in order to gain some ground than lose elections and set the country back.
I know this is a controversial issue, and all voters must act in accord with conscience. If you cannot vote in good conscience for Giuliani, then please don’t. But I hope these considerations will help you sort out the issues.
But don’t lump me in with Pat Robertson on this. I am by no means endorsing Giuliani. In fact, I think this ethical dilemma should only motivate us to give more support to Mike Huckabee. If you don’t want to have to face this ethical quandary next November, then make a donation to the Huckabee campaign, tell all your friends to do so, and vote for him in the primary.