If it wasn’t already clear that Donald Trump doesn’t really understand how pro-lifers think, he’s doing a bang-up job of reinforcing the point every few weeks. As Live Action News’ Danny David covered earlier, Trump said the following on the Today Show:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: The Republican platform, every four years, has a provision that states that the right of the unborn child shall not be infringed. And it makes no exceptions for rape, for incest, for the life of the mother. Would you want to change the Republican platform to include the exceptions that you have?
TRUMP: Yes, I would. Yes, I would. Absolutely. For the three exceptions, I would.
GUTHRIE: Would you have an exception for the health of the mother?
TRUMP: I would leave it to the life of the mother, but I would absolutely have the three exceptions.
Pro-life activist Abby Johnson had some choice words in response:
I love many people who were conceived from rape or incest. They do not deserve to die for the crimes of their father. Their are fully human and fully alive. All human beings, no matter how conceived, have been given infinite dignity and worth. They have just as much purpose as you do. In fact, the people I know who were conceived in rape have more integrity in their pinky finger than you have in your entire body.
The GOP platform currently says:
Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.
It goes on to endorse a variety of incremental pro-life measures, which should be a clue to one reason why Trump’s answer is ridiculous: as a practical matter, such a change would be unnecessary. The passage in question is stating total protection without exception as the principle to strive toward in the long run, not what every piece of incremental legislation must conform to today. The platform not mentioning exceptions hasn’t prevented most major pro-life bills, like the 20-week abortion ban or the ban on taxpayer funding of abortion, from containing them—which should have been obvious to any candidate paying attention.
Most pro-lifers who oppose exceptions are comfortable with those bills because we know they are only steps toward the goal, not the end of the fight. We choose our battles to account for the parts of public opinion that aren’t ready to follow us all the way, while at the same time working to persuade them to protect the rest of the babies in the future.
That’s the bigger problem with Trump’s answer: he doesn’t comprehend the difference between strategic decisions and statements of principle. Consider how one might amend the above statement to conform to Trump’s pro-exceptions position:
We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed unless he or she was conceived in rape or incest.
That wouldn’t help the pro-life cause in any way; it would hurt the cause by declaring—as a matter of morality and justice, not a simple, temporary strategic decision—that children who are every bit as alive and human as any other are somehow less human, or their rights are less important, solely based on the circumstances of their conception rather than any difference in what they actually are.
It would cheapen and undermine the words “sanctity,” “fundamental,” “right,” and “infringed” appearing in the very same sentence.
Weakening a statement of ideals the GOP is already doing a pretty lackluster job of living up to makes neither moral or tactical sense. It only makes sense through the eyes of a politician who’s been pro-abortion most of his life adopting a pro-life stand not out of deep reflection, but because it’s what he needs at the moment to cut his latest deal.