Abortion and the Election

Let me be clear: If I were a Republican strategist, I would be fully on board with focusing this year’s campaigns on all the failed policies of their Democratic opponents.

I would share their determination not to let Democrats use a singular focus on “abortion rights” to distract from the violent crime epidemic, spiraling inflation, the massive human tragedy on the border, the unchecked and dangerous aggressions of our foreign adversaries.

I would not, however, agree with how Republicans are going about that strategy—figuratively, if not literally, recoiling in apparent fright whenever abortion is mentioned, and responding, in effect, “We don’t want to talk about that!”

This does two things, neither of which is helpful to their campaigns.

First, it cedes the field on this issue totally to the pro-abortion absolutists who now run the Democratic Party.

This allows them to misrepresent the recent Supreme Court decision as a national ban on abortion, rather than what it is, a return of the issue to the democratic process.

It allows them to mischaracterize even tepidly pro-life Republicans as “extremists” on the issue, when in fact it has been pro-abortion Democrats advancing the most extreme measures: abortion up to the moment of birth; denial of care for babies born alive if they are disabled or were born following a failed abortion; forcing us all to be complicit in abortions through our tax dollars; and enacting policies designed to drive pro-life pregnancy resource centers out of existence, so women in crisis have no choice other than abortion.

While most Americans do not support these extremes, many are unaware of them, as Democrats and the media disguise their extremism, while Republicans refuse to engage the issue at all.

This GOP strategy of silence also enables Democrats to cast the Supreme Court ruling in human terms, as an attack on “women’s rights.” Republicans, when they talk about it at all, do so solely in the context of “states’ rights”—a legitimate constitutional principle, but an abstraction to most voters.

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposed national law restricting abortion after 15 weeks has generated much angst among Republicans and even some pro-lifers. But at least Sen. Graham, by calling for “unborn children” to be included in our “compassion for those who suffer pain,” is focusing some attention on the rights of the other human being involved in abortion: the innocent baby being killed, often with excruciating pain.

The second negative effect of this approach for Republicans is its potential to turn off voters—and not just hard-core pro-abortion voters, who are not going to support Republicans anyway, given the pro-abortion absolutism of the Democrats.

It also has the potential to lose voters—be they pro-life or “pro-choice”—for whom abortion is not the defining issue, but who may be turned off by what they perceive as political cowardice on the part of candidates unwilling to say where they stand on such a compelling moral issue.

And it could even lose some pro-life voters, who have long tired of having their support quietly solicited by candidates who counsel caution before elections, with the caveat that “we have to get into office before we can advance the cause.”

The problem with that, as my former boss, the late, ardently pro-life Nassau County, NY District Attorney Denis Dillon once remarked to me, is that once elected, such calculating politicians often turn their focus immediately to getting re-elected; and so they still don’t want to engage a controversial issue that might hurt their future prospects.

So my unsolicited advice would be for pro-life Republicans to continue focusing on all the critical issues currently confronting our states and nation; and when challenged on the abortion issue, to point out that Democrats are using that issue to distract from all their current policy disasters; and that in any event, it is the Democrats whose abortion policies are extremist.

At the same time, I would counsel pro-lifers to be cognizant of the political realities impacting our pro-life candidates and officials—understanding their need to prioritize other urgent matters, and also understanding the limitations they face trying to advance pro-life initiatives in hostile jurisdictions.

For example, here in New York I am ardently supporting Rep. Lee Zeldin for governor, both for his solid and consistent pro-life record, and because I see him as best equipped to address the many terrible crises currently afflicting our state, from rampant violent crime, to economic hardship, poverty, homelessness and mental illness, to our state government’s culture of corruption.

I do so aware that even his election will offer little hope for any significant change in New York’s radical pro-abortion laws, given the overall political and cultural climate in this state.

I am confident, however, that he will work to protect our pro-life crisis pregnancy centers—and all the mothers and children who depend on their loving care—from the onslaught of the abortion industry and its government enablers determined to shut them down.

That, I think, is a realistic expectation even in a rabidly pro-abortion state—and reason enough for pro-life voters to support Lee Zeldin.

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

8 thoughts on “Abortion and the Election

  1. I have been astounded by the number of female friends , Catholic friends, although not necessarily active church goers, for whom this is a major voting issue. These are women in their 60’s who have no chance of pregnancy themselves , and often have no daughters, yet have bought the leftist line of “my body my choice” , hook, line and sinker. To vote on this one issue alone, while we face mortal political enemies, a broken border admitting millions of terrorists, criminals and drug traffickers, inflation, baby formula shortages, fentanyl killing our youth, soaring violent crime, etc, is amazing. I will go a step further and say it is stupid to vote on abortion alone and ignore these more directly affecting issues. Its not untrue we have to get elected before stressing this issue. Sadly, stressing this issue often loses us the needed votes of independents, who might be persuaded to go along to vote for us by other pressing issues. Lindsey Graham picked the wrong time to propose radical restrictions to abortion. It played directly into leftist propaganda mill while the “wound” of the Dobbs decision was still fresh in the mind of the public, and hysterical leftists still had their hair on fire. The church always aims to get the full loaf in any issue, including abortion, and as a result usually gets none. While conceding the sanctity of life, most average Americans are unwilling to force a woman to carry a baby to term if it is a result of rape or incest, or if the mother is endangered. As a result the battle of all or nothing rages, while a moderate if grudging concession by the pro-lifers might result in saving millions of other babies. So far, the left is winning here. What good is being theologically correct if millions of babies still die?

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    1. Thanks so much for your strong, detailed comments–much of which I agree with, but a couple of differing thoughts:
      — Lindsey Graham’s proposal, to restrict (not ban) abortion after 15 weeks, can hardly be called “radical” given that it would still allow, without restriction, the majority of the million or so abortions each year that are done before 15 weeks; and that, as I understand it, includes life-of-the-mother and rape and incest exceptions after 15 weeks. We should not uncritically accept the pro-abortion mischaracterization of this very soft pro-life bill as “radical.”
      — The role of the Church is to state, unequivocally, the moral teaching: that it is wrong, IN EVERY INSTANCE, to directly, intentionally, kill innocent human life. It falls to the laity, as Vatican II explained, to apply that teaching, as best we can, to the laws and policies of “the earthly city.” As you explain, it will not always be possible, in a pluralistic society, to achieve that to the fullest degree. As Pope St. John Paul II taught, it is acceptable to support imperfect laws that improve the situation, saving some lives, while we continue to work toward a law that is fully just, whether we ever achieve that or not. That is why I do NOT want our religious leaders leading the political and legislative pro-life effort (as too many pro-life Catholics constantly demand of them). They cannot compromise the moral teaching; we, working for change in an imperfect world, can move incrementally, cognizant of the cultural and political realities at a given time and place.
      Thanks again, for another thoughtful, and thought-provoking, comment.

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  2. Hi Rick, I hope that you and your family are doing well. I support Lee Zeldin. and will forward your email to all in my address book.

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  3. Thanks, Rick.
    Who are the extremists?
    Those who advocate abortion without restriction; they are the extremists.
    Msgr. Batule

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  4. Excellent analysis Rick!

    Rev 3:16
    So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

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    1. Thanks, Walter. I think back yet again to Senator Jim Buckley who, whatever the political consequences, would not stand on the sidelines when so morally defining a principle as the right to life was at stake.

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