The Pelvic Left and the Heartless Right

The Pelvic Left just cannot get over the fact that we are a pro-life nation. Writing in the Nation a few days ago, Katha Pollitt bemoaned the recent elections that will bring “fifty-three additional anti-choice Republicans in the House and five in the Senate.”

Pollitt could not help but gild the lily. She says “Senator-elect Rand Paul, and incoming Representatives Mike Fitzpatrick and Tim Walberg oppose most common methods of birth control, in vitro fertilization, and stem cell research, and join Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey in opposing abortion even for rape and incest.” Perhaps all of this is true. One can certainly dream that someone wants to get the United States out of the global condom business and begin at least to regulate IVF. The most interesting thing for pro-lifers, however, is that these largely libertarian newcomers think one of the ways government should be limited is to get it out of the sanctioning of abortion.  

Pollitt lays out a remarkable pro-life agenda for the new Congress. She says it will reinstate Mexico City policy, effectively defunding abortionists and pro-abortion advocates overseas. It will pass Chris Smith’s No Tax Payer for Abortion Act, which would expand the Hyde prohibitions on federal abortion funding to the entire federal budget, and will pass the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would forcibly remove Planned Parenthood from the federal teat. She predicts much more doom and gloom, which makes pro-life hearts go pitty-pat. 

It’s not just the Pelvic Left who are cranky about November’s outcome. So is the Heartless Right. A tiny group among libertarians sent a letter to Congressional leaders a few days ago trying to persuade them that this election was only about economics and that they will take up social issues at their peril.

The letter, which was co-written by several homosexual groups, said: “The election was not a mandate for the Republican Party, nor was it a mandate to act on any social issue, nor should it be interpreted as a political blank check. Already, there are Washington insiders and special interest groups that hope to co-opt the Tea Party’s message and use it to push their own agenda – particularly as it relates to social issues. We urge you to stay focused on the issues that got you and your colleagues elected to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests.”

Aware of what it takes for a society to reproduce and defend itself

Well. Here is something for the new kids on the block to understand. The so-called conservative movement is broad and deep. We can call it conservative for convenience sake, but it consists essentially of all the people who understand what it takes for a society to reproduce and defend itself. It includes economic conservatives along with social conservatives and national security conservatives, in fact, anyone who understands how invasive government destroys the family and freedom.

More than any other part of the conservative coalition, pro-lifers embody all parts of the conservative credo. We are not just pro-life; we are economic conservatives and also favor a muscular foreign policy. Many conservative libertarians do not hold with either the pro-life position or the position on a strong defense. Many national defense conservatives abhor the pro-life issue. Pro-lifers embody the purest form of self-reproducing, self-defending – in a word, viable – conservatism.

It is certainly true that the recent election was driven largely by economic concerns. But doesn’t the Heartless Right know that five Tea Party Senatorial candidates held unapologetic pro-life views including outlawing abortion for rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother? Does the Heartless Right really think that abortion is not a federal issue? Do they really not understand that the decision that has most warped our Constitutional republic and our politics was Roe v. Wade? Do they really not understand that the marriage issue is being federalized?

The dirty little secret is, I suspect, that they do know each of these things and that, no matter their protestations to the contrary, they are fine with the killing of unborn children and they are fine with the judicial destruction of marriage.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not equate the Tea Party with the Heartless Right. The Heartless Right is merely a subset of the Tea Party and an even smaller subset of the conservative movement in general. Heck, I am a Tea Partier. So are my wife and my mom. We believe in smaller government, lower taxes, closer attention to the Constitution as the Founders intended it. We also oppose abortion for any reason and we oppose homosexual marriage. Poll other Tea Partiers like us and you will discover exactly the same thing in overwhelming numbers.

In her Nation piece, Katha Pollitt reminded us of Thomas Frank’s epigram from his book What’s the Matter with Kansas? He puzzled over the fact that pro-lifers consistently vote for Republicans and then never get what they really want: “The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes.” There is something to that. Pro-lifers have been remarkably loyal to the conservative coalition but it is the economic types who seem always to walk away with the legislative prizes. But who knows. Maybe this time it will be reversed. Vote for economics; get a roll back on abortion.

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Center for Family & Human Rights (C-Fam), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-Fam.