By Dave Andrusko
Pro-lifers of every stripe have spent much of the last 24 hours lamenting the egregiously ill-informed comments of Donald Trump. For example, Mollie Hemingway, over at the Federalist, has a piece that ran under the headline, “4 Reasons Donald Trump’s Abortion Answer Was A Betrayal Of Pro-Lifers.”
The “4” could be 40. Granted, host Chris Matthews badgered Trump unmercifully, but is there anyone over the age of 6 that would have not expected that from Matthews, who wears his abortion advocacy like a badge of honor?
Remember the setting: a town-hall like setting taped in advance of its showing last night. Matthews asks if abortion were to be made illegal, how would Trump ban it? As he often does, Trump tried to turn the question around on the host of Hardball but Matthews deflected his attempt.
Trump finally says, “There has to be some form of punishment, yeah” for women who have abortions, MSNBC was so thrilled it broke in its programming to air a clip from the exchange. (Trump later in the days said he wouldn’t punish women who have aborted.)
Why was Trump’s answer such a disaster? As I said, we could offer 40 examples. Here are just a few.
#1. It provided the usual suspects with real “evidence” (as opposed to the stuff they manufacture out of whole cloth) that this is pro-lifers’ real motives: to jail women who’ve aborted. I could site numerous examples, but why bother? And when Trump reversed his position in a matter of hours, those same pro-abortion hacks could and would gleefully tell us this just proved (again) that pro-lifers are hiding their real agenda.
Pro-abortionists gleefully tarred every pro-life presidential candidate with the same brush. Interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, militant pro-abortionist Hillary Clinton said, “The Republicans all line up together,” adding, “Now maybe they aren’t quite as open about it as Donald Trump was earlier today, but they all have the same position.”
#2. Clearly Trump, a recent pro-life convert, had not thought through his position or prepared for a media that may give him a wide berth on almost everything else but would nail him to the mast on abortion. Once he talked about “punishing” women, you could see an energized Matthews’ prepare to pounce in for the kill.
“Ten cents? Ten years? What?” he barked in that inimitable Matthews’ fashion, and the next thing you know Trump is talking about maybe “You go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places, but we have to ban it.”
#3. An extension of #1. It’s not just every pro-life Republican who is required to disprove a negative. National Right to Life, like all mainstream pro-life organizations, has argued from its beginning in the 1960s that abortion has two victims, but that won’t stop some from insisting we have an ulterior motive (i.e., imprisoning women).
But our objective is to save babies from death and women from a terrible “choice.” How would imprisoning women possibly serve either objective? In response to Matthews’ hypothetical scenario, NRLC President Carol Tobias said
In adopting statutes prohibiting the performance of abortions, National Right to Life has long opposed the imposition of penalties on the woman on whom an abortion is attempted or performed. Rather, penalties should be imposed against any abortionist who would take the life of an unborn child in defiance of statutes prohibiting abortions. National Right to Life-backed state and federal legislation, such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, is targeted at stopping abortionists.
#4. What does the exchange, the furor that followed, and the relentless piling on by the media tells us about the presidential contest? I would guess at least a couple of things.
Hillary Clinton is an unlovable candidate, whose basic honesty and leadership is doubted by large portions of her own party. Watching her stumble and fumble and stonewall reminds the [90%+] pro-abortion reporters that she will need all the help she can get.
A Democratic Socialist who figured out about an hour and a half ago that he was not an Independent but a Democrat is about as weak a competition as you could imagine for a woman with a war chest the size of Fort Knox and the support of the Democratic Party.
Yet nary a day goes by when we don’t see Sen. Bernie Sanders gaining on Clinton, including in Wisconsin where the Town Hall meeting took place yesterday. By allowing the conversation to be diverted to “punishing” women, Trump’s unforced error has provided the former Secretary of State with a freebie. Lastly
#5. In a sense there may be (if you look hard enough) a kind of small saving grace to this debacle. Our Movement spends its time and resources creatively coming up with ways to convince women that carrying their babies to term is a win-win solution and to persuade the public that there has to be a better way than ripping little babies’ heads off of tiny torso.
As the media checked around (it was obligated to do so, and, I suspect, most knew Trump’s comments were 100% at odds with the pro-life Movement’s position),it heard time and time again how deeply we care about both mother and unborn child. And at least some of those heart-felt sentiments made their way into media accounts.
And even though the setting is not what we would’ve wanted, the public cannot hear that truth often enough.