Trump's statement on abortion was wise, effective, and prudent

Based on what's seen in the press, President Trump has "turned" on his own supporters on the abortion issue, supposedly flinging blame at them for the weak midterm showing in what should have been a red wave year.

Ben Domenech's column headline at the Spectator reads, "Trump unleashes his disdain for pro-life voters."

Tom Joyce's at The Examiner reads, "Trump abandoned pro-lifers. We should return the favor."

According to Newsweek, this passage from Trump's post-midterm statement "proved" that Trump had done an about-face on some of his biggest loyalists:

"It wasn't my fault that the Republicans didn't live up to expectations in the MidTerms. I was 233-20!," Trump wrote, referencing the success rate of his midterm endorsements, which included incumbents already heavily favored to win.

"It was the 'abortion issue,' poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother, that lost large numbers of Voters. Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again."

This is no about-face whatsoever.  The analysis is nonsense.

Trump's statement was about using strategy and tactics correctly in politics.  There was nothing in it suggesting that he had suddenly become pro-choice.

Trump was pointing out something that some pro-lifers dismiss too quickly — that the American people are uneasy about the Democrats' abortion on demand up until the day of birth but aren't quite ready for a full ban on the practice, at least not yet.

According to various polls cited by Forbes last summer:

  •  If Roe is overturned: A January CNN poll found a 59% majority want their state to have laws that are "more permissive than restrictive" on abortion if Roe goes away, while only 20% want their state to ban abortion entirely (another 20% want it to be restricted but not banned).
  • Strongest support for abortion—within limits: An Associated Press/NORC poll in June found 87% support abortion when the woman's life is in danger, 84% support exceptions in the case of rape or incest, and 74% support abortion if the child would be born with a life-threatening illness.
  • When abortion support drops: The further into the pregnancy, with AP/NORC finding 61% believe abortion should be legal during the first trimester, but only 34% in the second trimester and 19% in the third, and an April Wall Street Journal poll finding more Americans approve of 15-week abortion bans than disapprove.

Trump was basically going where the American people are going, which is for some restrictions on abortion at this point, but not an immediate full-scale ban at one swoop, when the voters aren't ready for it.  That is what some states have attempted, and some states have actually done, with mixed results, which has certainly rallied the abortion-supporters.

Texas's ban on abortion, as Trump has suggested earlier, is unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny in the long run.  Yes, the Texas legislators want the practice banned, and they are right to do so, but their tactics don't seem terribly prudent or wise.  Setting up a bureaucracy for people to snitch on bus drivers who transport women to abortion clinics, complete with bounties offered, is not going to end abortion in a peaceable way.  It's likely to trigger a lot of sob stories, a lot of resentment, and some unjust outcomes that won't stop the urge to get abortions.  The measure will probably be reversed in the long run, leaving the pro-life movement with a loss.

Trump's latest statement is similar to that one about the move in Texas — that abortion should be banned, but it's got to be banned in a way the voters are onboard for.  Smaller steps have ways of working up to bigger steps, but the smaller steps must be taken first. 

That's exactly what Sen. Lindsey Graham was clueless about when he introduced his well intentioned but useless and grandstanding bill banning abortions nationally, which failed in the Senate.  Not only did the proposed measure fail, but it took on a new radioactive half-life, sending out a signal to the far left that the right wanted to ban abortion wholesale across the board through the nation, so it would be best to vote for Democrats and their abortion-until-the-day-of-birth agenda instead.

Yes, it can be read as moral relativism or whatever to say that wholesale bans done swiftly as some states have attempted should be avoided.

But I think Trump is right, because this is politics, and abortion has been a fact of life for decades.  People are used to the idea.  Millions of women have had abortions, and they view it as a means of getting out of a problem when they get "knocked up" or have bad boyfriend problems.  It's a problem solved, even though it doesn't solve the root of the problem, which is the devaluation of human life.

To ban abortion entirely and immediately is problematic just for that reason alone.  A full-scale ban makes every woman who has had one a murderer, and many are going to feel this.  Since most aren't going to be comfortable with that, they will cling harder to abortion as a "right," if for nothing else, then to avoid any sense of guilt.  That's counterproductive.  It's better to pass laws to let women see for themselves and reach their own conclusions about the merit of the practice.

Abortion also is always harmful to the babies, who have no say in the matter, but it's also harmful to many women who get abortions, in some cases physically (there can be pregnancy complications), but in even more cases, they get hurt mentally.  Abortion regret (and the ends to which some women go to reverse abortions after taking the pill) is one of the great undiscussed issues of our times.

The news of this is generally suppressed, but it's entirely real.  Perhaps it shouldn't be repressed, and a new law should be passed that requires Planned Parenthood and all abortion "providers" to read warnings to every potential patient about that long-term potential side-effect, just as is done with every prescription drug advertised on television.  That would work better than a hard, outright ban at the onset.

Baby steps to save babies seems most prudent because it is more likely to work.  And it's better to save some babies than to save none, as Democrats and their all-abortion-all-the-time policy is viewed by voters as the lesser of two evils.

The problem is that people are not affected evenly by abortion.  Like marijuana legalization and like pornography, some people are badly affected by the legalization of abortion (or pot, or porno), and some people are not.  The ones not affected by it dismiss the problems of those who are badly affected as irrelevant.  It also works in reverse, which is why the issue is so thorny and contentious.

Trump attempts to drive a middle ground here in that he calls for abortion bans to be done gradually and effectively, with most banned but some exceptions allowed, instead of as a crash-and-burn exercise of the kind Lindsey Graham tried to pull, which got absolutely zero results.  All Graham did with his move was create a rallying point for pro-abortion fanatics to sell to the public.

Trump is on solid ground here.

Unlike any president before him, including Republicans, his record on life is unmatched in its commitment.  He's the only president who has ever attended the March for Life rally, a gargantuan annual demonstration that merits more coverage than it's ever gotten.  His appointment of three constitutionalist judges to the Supreme Court was even more concretely in favor of life.  The justices voted, as serious constitutionalists, to scrap Roe v. Wade based on its scurrilous legal basis, something even the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed was a problem, ending that phony constitutional "right" to abortion on those grounds.

The ending of Roe wasn't a full frontal blow for the pro-life cause; it was a careful use of legal tactics that got the pro-life movement some grounding for later moves, setting the stage for a full ban when the voters are ready for it.

And it's obvious that Trump is looking at the matter from both sides.  It should be remembered that the Supreme Court rammed that Roe v. Wade ruling through in 1973, and there has been nothing but conflict since, because, as with the ban-all-abortions legislation since, the voter consensus was not there, and sure enough, it wasn't sustained. 

Now we are seeing some of the opposite from the pro-life legislatures and do-nothing senators like Graham, and the reaction is just as contentious, exactly the same as Roe but from the opposite side.

It's way better to set the stage for a culture of life through baby steps — allowing information about abortion's effects, allowing full conscience exceptions for health care providers who don't want to perform abortions, ending abortion at late stages, allowing for rape, incest, and life of the mother exceptions, even though they are imperfect, than it is for an all-reaching solution that will only get repealed.

Fewer abortions are better than tons of abortions for now, as Trump seems to be saying.  It's better to take small, effective steps than wholesale ones that eventually fail.  But once the seeds of a culture of life are planted from those small steps, abortion will become unthinkable and eventually go down to zero.  Banning the abortions at that point will be a simple matter because the voters will be ready.

Image: Pixabay, Pixabay license.

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