July 25, 2000
President Al Gore used to be a pro-lifer who believed or
said, anyway that human life begins at conception. Now he favors
legal abortion, even when the unborn child is fully formed and ready for
In a recent interview with
NBCs Tim Russert, Gore explained that he changed his mind after
talking to women and learning to understand their problems. His
consciousness having been raised, he rethought his position, and somehow
concluded that the beginning of life is a much more gradual process than
he had believed. Its as if he were to change his position on the
dangers of the internal combustion engine after hearing drivers complain
about gasoline prices.
The vagueness, awkwardness, and
illogic of Gores explanation raise the natural suspicion that his
conversion on abortion was political: when he decided to seek the
Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, he realized that the prize he
sought would never be given to a pro-lifer. So he changed his position.
Its that simple and
that cynical. And Gores supporters arent bothered by his
obvious insincerity. But Gore wants to disguise his new position as a
rooted conviction, so until recently he tried to deny that he had ever
opposed abortion, insisting falsely that he had always
supported the U.S. Supreme Courts ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Asked whether a
pregnant woman should be executed, Gore, who favors capital punishment,
said he needed time to think that one through. A day later, having
consulted his inner circle of philosophers, he held a news conference and
delivered his Solomonic answer: the woman should be able to decide
whether to be executed during her pregnancy or to delay her execution
until she has given birth. The principle of a womans right to
choose governs in that case, he explained.
It sounds like a macabre joke, but it
wasnt. To Gores mind, the unborn childs life really
has no intrinsic value; only its mothers right to
choose is absolute, even when her own life is forfeit.
Thanks in large part to politicians
like Gore, its now safer to be a murderer than a human fetus. The
percentage of deaths of unborn children far exceeds that of murderers,
because murderers enjoy many safeguards denied to the child.
If you kill an adult in cold blood, you
still have rights. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty by very
strict procedures and standards of evidence. You have a right to counsel, a
right to a trial, a right to confront accusers and to cross-examine
witnesses. If convicted, you have a right to appeal. Even then, your
conviction may be overturned on a mere technicality.
Your judge and jury have to be
impartial; friends and relatives of the deceased are disqualified. You
cant be convicted or sentenced by anyone who may have reason to
want you dead. You may even be able to choose the method of your
execution. Even if you are clearly guilty, you have rights.
The unborn child has no rights. It need
not be proved guilty of anything. It has no advocate to represent its
interests. It is entirely at the mercy of one person, its mother, who may
want it dead. Her interests alone decide its fate; nobody who wants the
child to live (such as the father) has any say in the matter. Death may be
inflicted immediately, without appeal to any impartial party.
That is the difference between the
rights of an unborn child and those of a murderer. Al Gore approves of this
difference, though in some hypothetical cases he would allow a murderer
to spare the child not because the child has rights, but because the
Pressed for reasons, Gore stumbles
and fumbles. His political interests have trapped him into a position he
cant justify except in feminist clichés. He has no permanent
standards by which to recognize a change in public morality as evil.
Gore is widely perceived as Bill
Clintons flunky, a weak
yes-man. But his real flaw is not that he always says yes to Clinton;
its that he always says yes to new moral fashions, however
monstrous. One cant imagine him taking an unfashionable position
because he believes in it. He is one of historys yes-men.
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