By Jonathon Van Maren
A couple of days ago, the New York Times ran on op-ed titled “Why We Are Leaving the GOP” by Susan Bevan and Susan Cullman, the leaders of the abortion lobby group Republican Majority for Choice—a column that’s been getting a lot of traction among progressives as evidence that Republicans have become “extreme.” And why? Because just as Democrats have become so absolutist on abortion that they would shut down the government to make sure that late-term abortions would continue to be available, the Republican Party (their abysmal failure to defund Planned Parenthood notwithstanding) has apparently become increasingly pro-life—and for that reason, says the Susans, the abortion activists will now be leaving. Here’s a few relevant snippets:
When the obituary for the Republican Party is written, the year 1980 will be cited as the beginning of the end. Reaganism was in full flower, but the big tent was already folding. Republican leaders endorsed a constitutional ban on abortion at the convention that summer, ending the party’s historic commitment to women’s rights and personal freedom.
…As pro-choice Republicans, we refuse to support a party that has rightly earned the labels anti-woman and anti-common sense. Our organization, the Republican Majority for Choice, the organization founded by Ms. Crisp in 1988, is shutting its doors. The big tent has collapsed for good.
I notice here that the one person most solely responsible for ensuring that pro-life planks existed in the Republican Party—Phyllis Schlafly—goes unmentioned here. It would be inconvenient to point out that pro-life women are responsible for much of the groundwork in making the Republican Party the pro-life option to begin with—and it is pro-life women who have consistently turned out for Republican candidates while spurning abortion extremists like Hillary Clinton. More:
At its peak in the 1990s, our group had an annual budget of as much as $1 million and a political action committee that gave away about $200,000 per year. Close to 20 state chapters provided support to candidates and lobbied state legislatures. The committee supported Republicans who believed freedom from government intervention extended to a person’s bedroom and doctor’s office: senators like Alan Simpson of Wyoming, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine; House members like Connie Morella of Maryland, Mike Castle of Delaware, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania; and governors including William Weld of Massachusetts, Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and George Pataki of New York. In Congress and the courts we pushed for teen pregnancy prevention, stem cell research, emergency contraception and clinic access.
I’m not going to lie—this seems like a pretty big victory for pro-lifers. Organizations like the Susan B. Anthony List certainly aren’t going to miss having abortion activists around to push for Republican candidates that support abortion—and the decision of the Susans to leave the GOP seems like a tacit surrender—a decision to leave the field to the pro-lifers:
For years we have debated whether to close our doors. Our founding principle had been that proponents of abortion rights should be comfortable in both major parties. But we have to face reality: There probably will not be a single pro-choice Republican member of the House after the fall election, and only two in the Senate — Ms. Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
It has become taboo within the party to even say “pro-choice.” Most of our supporters gave up on the party as it moved to the extremes not just on abortion but also on other social and fiscal issues.
This Republican Party is no family of ours. And so we say goodbye.
Goodbye, and good riddance.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.