Archive for January 22nd, 2010|Daily archive page

It’s the March for Life, not the March for Scott Brown

I didn’t get to attend the March for Life in Washington, DC this year, much as I would have liked to. Like any large-scale witness, the March for Life is a time not to debate the nuances of abortion politics and the various ways in which one can be “pro-life,” but is rather a time to collectively say “NO” to abortion. The March is a time to say one thing, and one thing only–that abortion is a grave evil, and we here who are participating are marching on behalf of the millions of unborn who have become victims of abortion.

On every other day of the year, anti-abortion advocates can adopt a more nuanced approach to the issue of abortion. On every other day of the year, anti-abortion advocates can get into debates about making abortion illegal vs. other legal tactics to minimize the number of abortions that take place. On every other day of the year, anti-abortion advocates can tone down their rhetoric, make concessions, and explore the connections between issues like access to health care, racial and gender discrimination, living wages, and abortion. But not today. Today, there are two answers–yes, or no, and today, and today only, anti-abortion advocates get to simply say “NO.”

Which is why I am disturbed to see, at least in the very preliminary media coverage of the March, to see the rhetoric of the March turning to Scott Brown and healthcare reform. From the Washington Post, for example:

Many at the rally cited the election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts as sign of a shifting momentum to conservative causes like their own.

“Any people from Massachusetts here today?” asked U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of several members of congress who spoke a the rally on the Mall. “Thank you Massachusetts. Thank you for helping us kill the anti-life bill,” he said referring to the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority in the Senate that will be broken once Brown is sworn in.

The issue of health care reform dominated the speeches and prayers blasted over loudspeakers at the protest. More than three decades since Roe v. Wade, the anti-abortion movement has been mobilized during the past year against the healthcare reform legislation.

Sure, I can see rallying speeches that reemphasize the point that any healthcare legislation that allocates federal funds for expanding abortion coverage is immoral. But Scott Brown, last I checked, wasn’t out there marching in the chilly mid-atlantic cold against abortion. In fact, the new junior senator from Massachusetts isn’t even pro-life. This is from his campaign website:

While this decision should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor, I believe we need to reduce the number of abortions in America. I believe government has the responsibility to regulate in this area and I support parental consent and notification requirements and I oppose partial birth abortion. I also believe there are people of good will on both sides of the issue and we ought to work together to support and promote adoption as an alternative to abortion.

Scott Brown doesn’t oppose healthcare reform because it allocates federal funds for abortion; Scott Brown opposes healthcare reform because it is expensive:

I believe that all Americans deserve health care coverage, but I am opposed to the health care legislation that is under consideration in Congress and will vote against it. It will raise taxes, increase government spending and lower the quality of care, especially for elders on Medicare. I support strengthening the existing private market system with policies that will drive down costs and make it easier for people to purchase affordable insurance. In Massachusetts, I support the 2006 healthcare law that was successful in expanding coverage, but I also recognize that the state must now turn its attention to controlling costs.

The issue of healthcare reform and abortion is important, and it needs to be discussed. But giving speeches in support of Scott Brown complicates the simple message that the marchers should be trying to communicate, a message of simple opposition to abortion. It also opens them up to criticism from their opponents who can simply point to the fact that the man they support doesn’t actually support them. The March for Life shouldn’t be about Scott Brown, or about any congressional figure. It should be a march for the pre-born and those that remain unborn. The March for Life is supposed to be a simple, collective “NO,” to abortion; how about we keep it that way?

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