The outcome of the November 1988 elections in the United States will have a profound effect on the pro-life struggle, and it is likely that the repercussions will be felt far beyond the U.S. national boundaries. The lives of untold millions of pre-born babies will depend on both the philosophy and policies of the next President (especially with his power to nominate members to the Supreme Court), and on which federal party will control the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Michael Dukakis, the Democrat Presidential candidate, makes no secret about his stand on “family issues: he is totally pro-abortion; he believes every taxpayer should pay for abortion; he advocates special rights for homosexuals.
Dukakis is not a Johnny-come-lately in the pro-abortion war. In 1970, when he was a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, he filed a Bill (H 3756) to legalize unrestricted abortion in Massachusetts. In more recent years he has repeatedly used his power as Governor Massachusetts to veto measure to stop funding abortions, measure which had been passed by duly elected members of the State Legislature.
In 1986 Dukakis spoke at The Coalition for Choice rally. He said: “I don’t know when life beings. I’m not sure I ever will.” Maybe he spoke the truth! Maybe he doesn’t know! But why boast about his ignorance of a basic scientific fact?
During the current Presidential campaign, Dukakis has made it clear that he opposes a proposed Constitutional Amendment to ban abortion, and that he favours federal funding of abortion. His policies call for the unrestricted and legal killing of the unborn.
Dukakis is also a long-time advocate of homosexuality. In 1970, again as a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, he sponsored Bill 3272, “to repeal the laws punishing unnatural and lascivious acts with another person.” That same year he sponsored a second bill to repeal the law prohibiting the “crime against nature,” (legalese for sodomy or homosexuality).
When the Massachusetts Legislature sought to protect young children by passing a measure to prevent them being turned over to homosexual couples, either as foster parents or for adoption, Dukakis vetoed the provision.
According to political observers, he has, as Governor of Massachusetts “vigorously promoted legislation to empower the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination to take action against employers, landlords and Insurance companies that discriminate against homosexuals, including AIDS carriers.” Parents with children in childcare centers, and householders with rooms to let are warned.
Lloyd Bentsen, the Democrat Senator from Texas, was chosen by Dukakis as his running mate for Vice-President because of his more “conservative” views. The choice was intended to appease those Democrats who are concerned about their Party’s drift to the left. However, this nomination brings no joy to pro-lifers.
Bentsen’s voting record in the Senate has been consistently anti-life. In 1983, he voted to defeat the Hatch-Eagleton Amendment that would have overturned Roe v. Wade. In effect, Bentsen voted that abortion on demand should remain legal. Other votes in the Senate have been concerned mainly with public funding for abortions, and Bentsen has been a solid supporter of the pro-abortion side.
In his favour, it should be said that his record is slightly better than that of Senator Edward Kennedy. In 1982, Bentsen voted to bar federal sponsorship of experimentation “on a living fetus or infant, whether before or after induced abortion, unless such research or experimentation is done for the purpose of insuring the survival of that fetus or infant.” Kennedy voted for experimentation “on a live fetus or infant” – Bentsen, to his credit, voted against it.
The Democrat platform of 1988, is little different from that of 1984. Not every office holder must share the party’s view, but the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates are pledged to uphold the Party platform.
The 1984 Democratic Platform
“The Democratic Party recognizes reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right. We therefore, oppose government interference in the reproductive decisions of Americans, especially government interference which denies poor Americans the right to privacy by funding or advocating one or a limited number of reproductive choices only.”
“We fully recognize the religious and ethical concerns which many Americans have about abortion, but we also recognize the belief of many Americans that a woman has a right to choose whether and when to have a child.”
“The Democratic Party support the 1973 decision on abortion rights as a law of the land and opposes any constitutional amendment to restrict or overturn that decision.”
“We deplore violence and harassment against health providers and women seeking services and will work to end such acts.”
George Bush, the Republican candidate for the Presidency, has stated that he opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life. He also says that he is against federal funding of abortion. However, his track record on abortion does not inspire much confidence because he has a history of abrupt and complete changes in policy. He has been described as “a chameleon who adopts protective coloration in order to advance his own interest.”
In 1964, Bush made his first attempt on a ‘conservative’ ticket to be elected as Senator for Texas. He was defeated. In 1966, on a ‘liberal’ platform, he was elected to the House of Representatives. During his four years in Congress, Bush was noted for his support of left wing policies:
– he co-sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment
– he headed a trendy Republican task force on world population
– he drafted a measure for establishing a Congressional Joint Select Committee on Population and Family Planning
In 1970, Bush resigned his seat as Congressman to have another attempt – again unsuccessful – to enter the Senate. Interestingly enough, his Democratic opponent was Lloyd Bentsen. In that election it was the Republican Bush who was judged to be the “more radical” candidate. The Congressional Quarterly for November 17, 1979, recalled that “Bush received indirect aid from the liberal wing of the Texas Democratic Party which found Bentsen unacceptable.”
During his 1980 campaign for the Presidency, Bush’s views on abortion conflicted with those of Reagan, and indeed with those of the majority of the Republican Party. He supported the Equal Rights Amendment (with its built-in “right” to abortion), and he opposed a Constitutional Amendment to ban abortions.
Despite his views, and to the consternation of pro-life people, he was chosen to be Vice-President by Ronald Reagan, ostensibly to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party.
Bush: 1980 – 1988
Since becoming Vice-President, Bush has avoided any disagreement with Reagan on the subject of abortion. In 1984, he pledged himself to uphold the Republican Party Platform on abortion, a Platform that was fully pro-life.
The 1984 Republican Platform
“We oppose the use of public revenues for abortion and will eliminate funding for organizations which advocate or support abortion.”
“The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”
“We therefore, reaffirm out support for a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection apply to unborn children.”
“We commend the efforts of those individuals and religious and private organizations that are providing positive alternatives to abortion by meeting the physical, emotional, and financial needs of pregnant women and offering adoption services where needed.”
“We…reaffirm our support for the appointment of judges at all levels of the judiciary who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.”
“We deplore discrimination because of handicap…we find no basis, whether in law or medicine or ethics, for denying necessities to an infant because of the child’s handicap.,…we guarantee, especially for the handicapped, non-discrimination in the compassionate healing that marks American medicine.”
In January 1988, Bush stated: “Since 1973, there have been about 20 million abortions. This is a tragedy of shattering proportions. It brings a renewed sense of urgency to adoption of a Constitutional amendment to Roe v. Wade.”
During the present Presidential Campaign Bush has declared that he is opposed to public funding for abortions, that he favours a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade and that he is against abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.
Whilst this is by no means a 100 per cent pro-life stand, it must be admitted that no leader of a major party in Canada (at least at the federal level) has come within light years of this position. No major political leader has made an issue of paying for abortions with public money. All three leaders, Mulroney, Turner and Broadbent did their utmost to scuttle Gus Mitges motion to amend the Charter in order to give protection to the unborn. No one has suggested amending the Charter since Black Thursday, January 28, 1988.
Both Mulroney and Turner were careful to avoid being in Ottawa for the vote on the abortion motion on July 28, 1988, and Broadbent is openly pro-abortion.
Two questions bother pro-life people: how sincere is his (semi) conversion? Will it last? The same questions were, of course, asked of other pro-abortionists – turned pro-life e.g., Nathanson and Reagan. Only time will tell, but one clue will be the choice of a Vice President.
Meanwhile, over 100 members of the Republican Members of the House of Representatives, including many of the Party’s most influential Congressmen, have called on the Republican Platform Committee to ensure that the Platform’s pro-life plank is every bit as strong in 1988 as it was in 1984. They asked that the language of 1984 be included “in its entirety in the 1988 Platform.”
The decision is now up to Bush. If he runs on a strong pro-life platform he will be assured of an all-out effort by pro-life people. If he is weak or wishy-washy, he will lose votes and maybe the Presidency.