Abortion, Jonah Goldberg, and the Integrity of Conservatism

On Thursday, I responded to a foolish, revealing statement by Jonah Goldberg asserting that “you can support abortion and still be a conservative.” You can read the whole thing at LifeSiteNews; here’s the gist:

[The Declaration of Independence] establishes that the core purpose of government is to secure the unalienable rights God has equally endowed on every human being – and among those rights, “life” is the first one listed. It’s the obvious prerequisite to exercising any of the other freedoms for which conservatism stands.

If you accept the Declaration’s premises, the only question remaining is one of fact, not philosophy: are the preborn the same kind of “life” Thomas Jefferson was writing about? The inarguable answer is yes.

According to all the established criteria of modern biology, a whole, distinct, living human exists once fertilization has occurred.

On Friday, Goldberg responded…not to me or the case I made, but to a LifeNews article that merely highlighted his comment and rounded up a handful of disapproving Twitter responses. As a result, his tweetstorm largely missed the substantive problems with his claim:

That last one here is key. Jonah identifies as “essentially pro-life” and has written valuable material on abortion in the past, though he also displays some muddy thinking on the subject that undoubtedly informs his level of comfort with “conservatives” who embrace it.

But at the end of the day, he is comfortable with them wearing the label, and not because he or anyone else in the more, shall we say, Beltway-sympathetic cliques of the Right is some absolutist for accommodating any and every deviation from first principles. Goldberg (rightly) says it “helped the cause” when National Review “purged the Birchers.”

So why don’t those who endorse legalized violence against children deserve to be similarly purged? What makes such a barbaric view any more respectable? Why doesn’t it carry a similar risk of morally and intellectually diluting the movement?

I’ve mentioned before a couple other instances of Goldberg demonstrating that he doesn’t consider abortion support beyond the pale, such as when he revealed that NR has “pro-choice” writers who “just don’t typically make that case in our pages” and that he disagrees “to some extent” on “moral, practical, [and] legal grounds” that “abortion is the taking of a life and should thus be treated under the law as such”; and when he suggested that Roy Moore was “the more evil man in his personal conduct” than pro-abortion Doug Jones.

In other words, he draws an arbitrary distinction between “personally” doing evil and doing evil through government, and/or fails to recognize some evils as evil at all.

It can’t be repeated often enough: the idea that most #NeverTrumpers were acting out of concern for the election’s long-term impact on conservative principles is exactly backwards. They were more comfortable with surrendering the presidency to Hillary Clinton because they weighed the issues at stake, including but not limited to abortion, less heavily than those of us who desperately wanted a different nominee yet recognized the stakes remained the same.

Keep that in mind the next time you see one of their lectures to the rest of us, which should be any minute now.

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New at LifeSite: Our GOP Congressional Leaders Are Lousy on Life

Here’s my latest piece, highlighting some of the details NRLC and SBA List left out of their statements slobbering all over Paul Ryan:

Over the years, Ryan voted for and presided over multiple budget resolutions that continued the more than $500 million Planned Parenthood receives from taxpayers annually. Pro-life leaders called onthe GOP to make defunding Planned Parenthood “non-negotiable” in budgets passed under Barack Obama, but Ryan defended not doing so on the grounds that “in divided government, no one gets exactly what they want.”

Last month, Ryan said that supporting the most recent budget was necessary to fund the military. But critics like Rep. Thomas Massie, R-KY, argue that under Ryan, the House forbade lawmakers from voting on amendments concerning Planned Parenthood or any other conservative objections to the bill.

“A more complete betrayal of the electorate I have not witnessed,” Massie tweeted.

Moreover, while Ryan’s House passed several pro-life measures, only the one letting states defund Planned Parenthood ever became law.

There’s a lot more at LifeSiteNews. And here’s a snippet of my piece from earlier this week detailing how ostensible Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (for all intents and purposes, Chuck Schumer is really calling the shots) continues to let Democrats slow-walk judicial nominees, in the hopes of delaying as many as they can until Donald Trump no longer has a GOP Senate majority to confirm them:

An October 10 memo signed by more than one hundred conservative leaders, including Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, and Tea Party Patriot’s Jenny Beth Martin, blames part of the problem on the McConnell Senate’s “continued insistence on working no more than 2 ½ days a week – arriving on Monday evening for a handful of votes, and departing, on average, by 2:30 p.m. each Thursday afternoon.”

Even under the 30-hour rule, the leaders add, McConnell could “easily make this painful for them by forcing continuous session overnight and through the weekend.” They estimate this would enable the Senate to confirm up to five nominees per week even with the added hours of debate.

On a related note, the insipid myth that McConnell is the real hero in getting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court continues to make the rounds, even among people who should know better like Matt Walsh:

New at LifeSiteNews: The Atlantic Hypocrites Fire Kevin Williamson

Here’s my latest commentary at LifeSiteNews. Spoiler alert: Jeffrey Goldberg isn’t the only one I have words for.

Well, that was quick. After publishing just one piece at his new gig, liberal magazine The Atlantic has already fired conservative columnist Kevin Williamson.

On March 22, Williamson announced his departure from National Review, saying he viewed the new job as an opportunity to “be an apostle to the Gentiles,” taking his commentary to an audience where exposure to conservative ideas was the exception.

That might have been a nice theory, but how it fared in practice was entirely predictable. A left-wing mob immediately swarmedThe Atlantic, ostensibly outraged that a “reputable” publication would allow an extremist to supposedly darken its door (though Huffington Postwriter Noah Berlatsky let slip liberals’ real motivation with the simple declaration that “conservative ideas aren’t worth debating”).

The mob has gotten its wish. A memo to Atlantic staff has gone public, in which editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg confirms that the publication has fired Williamson. Goldberg said some of Williamson’s past “intemperate” tweets were not initially deal-breakers, but that was before the left-wing Media Matters unearthed a 2014 podcast in which Williamson doubled down on one of his most controversial remarks: that women who have abortions should be hanged (pro-life leadersdenounced Williamson’s comments at the time).

“My broader point here is, of course, that I am a – as you know I’m kind of squishy on capital punishment in general – but that I’m absolutely willing to see abortion treated like a regular homicide under the criminal code,” Williamson elaborated in the podcast.

Read the rest at LifeSiteNews.

Related reading: Ace on what Williamson’s original writing said about the “respectable” Right, and Victor Davis Hanson refuting a swipe Williamson made at him in his only Atlantic piece.

New at TFPP: Pro-Life? Why Voting Your Conscience Means Voting Trump

This is it. Election Day is tomorrow, and despite what #NeverTrumpers will tell you, the differences between a Trump administration and a Clinton administration will be enormous.

At the Washington Examiner, Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony List and Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life have an incredibly important editorial urging pro-lifers to vote for Donald Trump. The whole thing is worth reading, but here’s the bottom line:

If Clinton and the Democratic Party get their way and repeal the Hyde Amendment, as many as 60,000 more babies would be aborted every year, paid for by taxpayers. We must not cross that Rubicon.

Then there are the estimated18,000 children a year who would die in painful late-term abortions. This would go unimpeded by Clinton, who says a baby on its due date has no constitutional rights. That adds up to 312,000 human lives lost over one presidential term.

The fact that this even needs to be said—to other pro-lifers, no less—at this late date is downright scandalous. But it does, because the maniacal sophistry of the #NeverTrump movement has convinced a sizeable minority of conservatives that protecting their self-image is more important than the election’s impact on the lives, freedoms, health, safety, and prosperity of more than 324 million Americans.

On abortion alone, one need not like, respect, or trust Trump (speaking just for myself, I certainly don’t) to understand that there’s an enormous difference between him, a candidate who may not have personal ideological investment in the pro-life cause but has every incentive to listen to the right people, sign the right bills, and appoint the right judges (and no incentive not to), and Hillary Clinton, a candidate who:

Read the rest at the Federalist Papers Project.

Steinem Smears Pro-Lifers as Anti-Gay; Here’s How to Respond

Today at Live Action, I have a response to recent comments by Gloria Steinem at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, the first of which was:

“Why is it that the same people who are against birth control and abortion are also against sex between two women or two men?” Steinem asked her audience, reports the Memphis Flyer. She continued that those people “are against any sex that cannot end in reproduction.”

Unfortunately, an editorial judgment was made to cut out part of my response, so I am presenting an expanded version of the rest here, where hopefully it will help equip pro-lifers to deal with this line of pro-abortion attack.


How does this strawman complaint fail? Let us count the ways. First, plenty of people—and not just pro-lifers—have acknowledged that antipathy toward abortion doesn’t automatically correlate with views commonly maligned as “anti-gay,” as evidenced by polling that indicates public opinion simultaneously becoming more accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage yet unchanged or less accepting of abortion.

Gee, it’s almost as if abortion and same-sex marriage are two different issues with distinct pros and cons that can be evaluated separately! Yes, most pro-lifers are also conservatives and/or Christians, but there are plenty of other pro-lifers all over the religious or ideological spectrums. There are even pro-lifers who are gay themselves, so good luck trying to use this argument on them, Gloria.

Second, it is true that conservatives (religious and secular alike) tend to oppose both abortion and the redefinition of marriage. For some people that’s may be because the Bible frowns on both; but for the most part it’s because both violate the Founding principles which conservatism exists to conserve: the right to life, and marriage’s function as a societal building block.

But by framing it as being “against sex between two women or two men,” Steinem gives the slanderous impression that we would take control of their private lives and punish them for what they do in their bedrooms, which couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no real movement in the United States to criminalize gay sex, relationships, cohabitation, etc. The only real gay debates going on today are civil recognition of same-sex marriage, which is entirely separate from the question of tangible benefits, and Steinem’s allies attempting to force private citizens—under penalty of law—to participate in ceremonies that violate their convictions.

Finally, endlessly repeating the clichéd “controlling sex is pro-lifers’ secret ulterior motive” conspiracy theory won’t change the fact that our stated reason for opposing abortion—it kills innocent people—is scientifically, objectively, irrefutably, obviously true. Anybody claiming not to understand that recoiling at violence against children is one of the average person’s most basic human intuitions—which anyone who dismisses this obvious motivation to oppose abortion is doing—is lying.

These days, there seems to be an increasingly-vocal minority of pro-lifers who don’t recognize that the abortion lobby and the radical gay lobby are two factions of a common agenda. But while their friendship and support in protecting the preborn is valuable, all pro-lifers should be able to see through Steinem’s attempt to smear our movement with these falsehoods.

New at Live Action: Only 30% of Churches Speak Out Against Abortion?

With a legally-sanctioned death toll of almost sixty million innocent children, abortion is easily the single greatest American moral crisis of our lifetimes—both from secular and religious perspectives. Conscientious men and women of every faith —and no faith —should all be shouting from the rooftops, in one voice, to end the bloodshed.

But on Monday, Pew Research Center released the disturbing results of a survey (hat tip to Life News) suggesting that the majority of churchgoers haven’t even heard about abortion in their churches:

Roughly three-in-ten say their clergy talked about abortion […] Recent churchgoers also have heard a more conservative perspective on abortion; 22% say they have heard religious leaders speak out against abortion and just 3% have heard clergy argue primarily in support of abortion rights […]

White evangelicals and Catholics are more likely than white mainline and black Protestants to have recently heard clergy speak out against abortion. For both groups, the message is consistently conservative. A third of white evangelical churchgoers and roughly three-in-ten Catholics who have attended Mass recently say they have heard religious leaders argue against abortion, while very few (1% and 2%, respectively) have heard clergy speak in support of abortion rights.

A third? At most?

Those who twist the Bible to support violating God’s commandment against murder are bad enough, and even 1% is scandalously too many.

Read the rest at Live Action News.

New at Live Action: Oklahoma Fetal Education Bill a Model for the Pro-Life Future

Among the various pro-life bills introduced at the state level, Oklahoma’s recent plan to start teaching fetal development in public schools deserves far more attention than it’s gotten so far.

Banning certain abortion procedures, regulating abortionists, defunding Planned Parenthood, etc., are all important for their own sake; but each of them, and the long-term goal of ending abortion for good, are ultimately too dependent on public opinion changing on its own.

Granted, America is opposed to abortion on balance, meaning pro-life politicians needn’t fear being more pro-active about it; self-identification as “pro-life” and “pro-choice” still fluctuates back and forth too often, without signs of a lasting, long-term spike on the horizon.

Read the rest at Live Action News.