By: Mike Mastromatteo
Opinion is mixed in the pro-life community over the November 5 election of Bill Clinton to his second term as U.S President.
Despite less than overwhelming support for Republican challenger Bob Dole, U.S. pro-life organizations preferred the Senate House leader’s plodding patriotism to the shifting values of the Democratic incumbent.
“Where is the outrage?” was the theme around which Dole attempted to derail Clinton’s substance-devoid campaign. Dole’s defeat owes as much to the U.S. electorate’s failure to challenge Clinton on the integrity issue as it does to Dole’s shortcomings on the hustings. Dole’s tepid campaign style was no match for the Clinton charisma, and the president’s consistently high showing in the polls continued to astound pro-life, pro-family groups who saw through the Clinton veneer.
Nonetheless many prolifers in the U.S are showing a brave front in the face of Clinton’s re-election. Judie Brown, president of the Virginia-based American Life League, said the Clinton victory won’t “cripple” the pro-life movement, especially since neither party was seriously committed to the unborn.
In a November 6 statement, Brown said the silence on the pro-life issue was revealing.
“Never has there been such silence between two major party candidates on the question of who lives in the womb during nine months prior to birth,” she said. “It is sad, it is ridiculous, but it is a fact,”
Brown criticized some members of the U.S. pro-life community for focusing entirely on the partial-birth abortion controversy which showed Clinton’s pandering to the most extreme pro-abortion elements.
“Let it be made clear that as we examine the election results, we will also be scrutinizing the spokesmen in our movement who time and again told the public that regulating one specific type of child killing – the partial-birth abortion – was enough to distinguish between a truly pro-life politician and a pro-death politician. They were wrong, and it is they who must now accept the results of their willingness to ignore millions of preborn babies while carrying on a campaign over a proposal that was dishonest from the very start.”
Other commentators saw Bob Dole’s failure to take a pro-life position as a gaffe that cost him support among Americans truly distressed by Clinton’s extremism.
Writing for the Eternal Word Television News network, pro-life journalist James Hitchcock said Dole and the Republicans’ tepid was costly.
“Above all, Dole stayed away from social issues notably abortion,” Hitchcock said, “making it clear by his demeanor and his silence that he was irritated that such albatrosses had been hung around his neck by last summer’s invention. While even many liberals were shocked at Clinton’s veto of the partial-birth abortion ban, Dole scarcely alluded to it.”
Despite the Republicans’ failure to make better use of Clinton’s extreme position on abortion, there can be no doubt the partial-birth debate will remain controversial throughout the 105th Congress.
Pro-life politicians are in the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. For the first time since abortion was made legal in 1973, both houses of Congress have majorities opposed to most abortions. Neither majority however, is large enough to overcome a Clinton veto on any abortion-related issue.
Nonetheless officials with the National Right to Life Committee are sounding a note of mild optimism.
They point to six House and Senate races where pro-abortion Democrats were replaced by pro-life Republicans. Even three newly-elected Democrats in the House of Representatives claim to be pro-life.
With today’s shifting values however, staunch pro-lifers lament the tendency of some politicians to take on the pro-life label, but find their resolve weakening at critical moments.
As Judie Brown noted, “If nothing else can be said today, it is that Bob Dole is a true reflection of the moral bankruptcy that has infected too many so-called pro-life leaders and their organizations.
“Every abortion is a heinous act, and when all pro-life leaders begin putting the preborn child ahead of poll results and partisan politics, politicians like Bob Dole will never again be able to wear the ‘pro-life’ label.”