Posted on January 31, 2020



No. He. Isn't.

Trump dumps on pro-life predecessors


Daniel Clark



You're probably aware that Donald Trump became the first president to speak in person at the annual March for Life. Actually, he spoke to a small gathering of early arrivers in a fenced-off section of the National Mall, where attendees are usually able to swarm in from all angles to see and hear the speakers who precede the march. The vast majority of the marchers were kept out of earshot from the stage by a high fence, patrolled by a dense perimeter of security. It was as if a Trump re-election campaign rally had been parachuted into the middle of an entirely separate event.

That's exactly the kind of security concern that prevented other Republican presidents from ever attending the march. But what did they know? The point is that Trump was first, which somehow is supposed to mean he's more dedicated to the pro-life cause, even though he'd been pro-abortion for almost his entire life, he really doesn't seem conversant on the issue, and it clearly hasn't been a high priority for him. In a late-December anti-impeachment tweet in which he exhaustively catalogued his real, imagined and exaggerated accomplishments, right-to-life issues didn't rate a mention.

Nevertheless, those few marchers who made it through the checkpoint to see Trump's speech were handed red signs with his picture on them, which read, "Most Pro-Life President. Ever." That would be pretty obnoxious, even if it were true. The point of the March for Life is not to engage in chest-beating about who is the bigliest, bestiest of all time. If Trump were really committed to defending innocent, unborn human life, he would show some appreciation for the accomplishments of those who came before him.

From 1973 to 1981, both major political parties were functionally pro-abortion. Richard Nixon's reaction to Roe v. Wade was muted. Not only did both he and Gerald Ford passively accept legalized abortion, but many years later, both former presidents would encourage the Republican Party to drop the pro-life plank from its platform. In addition, it was Nixon who had signed the Title X addendum to the Public Health Service Act, authorizing the use of taxpayer money for "family planning."

It's taken for granted anymore that the Republican Party, and any president representing it, must be pro-life, but this might never have been true had Ronald Reagan not made it so. By championing the pro-life cause, Reagan took a remarkably bold and lonely stand. Not only did he face opposition from the Democrats and the news media, but also from the most prominent leaders of his own party, his friends in Hollywood, and even his family. Nobody could realistically suggest that he was driven by anything but his own deeply held convictions.

Reagan originated the Mexico City Policy, prohibiting non-government organizations that receive U.S. funding from performing or promoting abortions overseas. He also reduced Title X funding, and advocated a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution. Still, his greatest contribution was in reorienting the Republican Party around conservative principles, steering it back from its leftward drift of the Nixon-Ford-Rockefeller era.

In 1983, Reagan penned an essay of about 35 pages entitled Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, which was supplemented by pieces written by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and British author Malcolm Muggeridge and released as a book. To date, it remains the only book published by a sitting president. Anybody who now says Reagan was not as pro-life as Trump needs to read it, and then apologize profusely.

All major pro-life federal legislation that's been enacted bears the signature of George W. Bush, who is responsible for The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Furthermore, it was GWB who set the standard of appointing strict constructionists to the federal judiciary, for which Trump now takes credit.

At the time, this was met with howls of protest, charging that Bush was imposing "litmus tests" and making the courts too ideological. He eagerly took on that fight, in a way that Trump, following in his footsteps, hasn't had to. Trump has merely taken the Bush blueprint and handed it to conservative think tanks, for them to provide him a list of judges from which to choose.

There's no disputing the fact that Trump's policies on right-to-life issues have been very favorable. If he were really the bigliest and bestiest of all time, however, his red signs, and the rhetoric of his sycophants, would not frame his pro-life predecessors as the opposition.


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