Analysis

Author of NYT ‘party of abortion’ piece decides pro-abortion politicians fine after all

A couple weeks ago, we covered a New York Times op-ed by Thomas Groome, a professed Catholic Democrat who wants his party to soften its pro-abortion absolutism to increase its appeal to mainstream and religious Americans.

This week, the Times followed up with a Q&A in which Groome and Catholic Democrats president Steven Krueger address reader feedback on the piece. However, the sequel is decidedly light on suggestions for substantive reform, and reads more like a guide to simply hiding politicians’ pro-abortion views better.

First, they claim that one of the reasons Hillary Clinton lost the presidency while Barack Obama won it twice is because she “used more one-sided rhetoric than he did at the expense of the moral dimension of this issue” (along with targeting the Hyde Amendment for elimination), whereas Obama “was more nuanced,” discussing abortion “as a moral issue” while highlighting “his commitment to social services” such as Obamacare to “help reduce the incidence of abortion”—which supposedly cut the abortion rate by a quarter from 2008 to 2014.

It’s certainly true that Clinton did little to mask her pro-abortion fanaticism, but the idea that Obama’s abortion talk was “nuanced” most certainly is not. He has never publicly discussed the moral challenges of abortion with specificity. The closest he comes is calling fetuses “potential” life, which is a nonsensical term, and vaguely suggesting viability should be the law’s dividing line…without explaining why viability makes someone more human or why he’s never actually supported post-viability abortion restrictions, or any other sort of restrictions one would expect from someone concerned about moral nuances.

Indeed, the “moral dimension of the issue” meant so little to the former president that following his infamous “above my pay grade” dismissal of human rights, his “clarification” ignored the settled science of embryology to pretend it was a purely theological matter of when the soul enters the body. Nor has Obama’s supposed recognition of nuance prevented him from viciously demonizing the very pro-lifers Groome and Krueger want to attract as wanting to control women, showing “contempt” for their health.

Further, the authors apparently missed that even the Guttmacher Institute now admits that Obamacare’s contraception mandate—its provision most directly related to abortion prevention—had virtually no effect on contraception use, nor do they account for Obamacare’s subsidizing of abortions.

That of course doesn’t stop Groome from continuing with the entirely unsupported claim that “it is the Democrats, and for sure not the Republicans, who have the social policies to reduce the number of abortions,” and that the abortion rate is all but certain to spike back up now that Donald Trump is president.

Say, do you think he realizes how this declaration completely guts the significance of his original piece by suggesting the only thing Democrats really need to change is their messaging, and on substance they don’t need to significantly overhaul their policies after all?

Krueger one-ups that with the following utterly, utterly preposterous claim:

Democrats should “be not afraid” to speak about abortion in equal measures of legality and morality, the latter being a salient reason many Democrats seek to reduce the incidence of abortion.

Really? Not only do they work to reduce abortion (by, y’know, funding the country’s biggest abortion provider), but they do so because they recognize a moral need to do so. Show of hands: has anyone ever seen an example of this? Anyone? I’m waiting…

The closest the authors come to advocating a meaningful change is Krueger advising Democrats to make room for unspecified policies “protecting the life of the unborn”…”while continuing to support Roe v. Wade.” Of course. Much like the ex-president he lionizes, Krueger’s deep contemplation of abortion’s “moral dimension” somehow leaves him with nothing to say about why Roe’s dividing line is correct.

Groome then delivers the following whopper:

Reagan ran on what he called a “pro-life” platform even though when he got into office he cut social services. However, it wasn’t until a Democrat, Bill Clinton, came into office that abortion rates began to fall dramatically.

By now you all probably know the answer to this one by heart, so say it with me: correlation is not causation. While overall abortion rates may have fallen during Clinton’s tenure (though no thanks to the low-income unintended pregnancy rate), the fact of the matter is that the 1990s saw a substantial increase in state-level pro-life laws—informed consent, restrictions on taxpayer abortion funding, parental involvement, and partial-birth bans—that rightfully deserve much of the credit, as do declines in teen sexual activity, and that the effects of expanding the welfare state were insubstantial.

Finally, the authors’ closing comments go into full pro-abortion propagandist mode. Groome dings Hillary for not debunking Trump’s “caricature” of late-term abortion (never mind that he was absolutely correct), while Krueger repeats the tired cliché that “few, if any, people are ‘pro-abortion,’” (really?) and that to claim otherwise is “perverting the Democrats’ position on it.”

That’s funny; if the share of America that’s pro-abortion rather than “just” pro-choice really is so small, then to whom are the politicians Groome lectures pandering? These perfectly reasonable, mainstream, conscientious public servants just adopted a stance that’s more hardline than they really want or think for no reason? If the politicians’ own values aren’t inherently extreme, and there’s no demand for extremism, then how did the problem Groome’s first piece diagnosed happen?

It’s a mystery, all right. If only someone “speaking directly to the moral dimensions of abortion” would come along and explain it to us.

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