By Jonathon Van Maren
Charles Camosy, an associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University (and author of the recent book Resisting Throwaway Culture) has been one of the most unique and interesting pro-life writers for some time. Last year, for example, he penned a fascinating essay titled “The Pro-Life Movement at a Crossroads,” in which he analyzed the political strategy of various pro-life organizations and cautioned the movement against triumphalism.
Camosy also happens to be a Democrat, and has been watching the Democrats move inexorably from “safe, legal, and rare” to making abortion throughout all nine months and funded by the taxpayer a litmus test for candidates. Bernie Sanders, who is the sort of cranky old socialist you can easily imagine bellowing at kids to get off his lawn, announced at last week’s Democratic debate that he would only appoint judges that swore their allegiance to Roe v. Wade, and at a subsequent town hall noted that he believes support for abortion to be a necessary standard for Democratic candidates.
Pete Buttigieg, who is one of the most radical candidates in the race despite his attempt to portray himself as a folksy moderate, has defended abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy as well, most recently in response to questioning from Meghan McCain on The View. She asked him about his disgusting suggestion that perhaps the Bible might support the idea that a baby is not human (and thus abortable, presumably) until “breath,” noting that the abortion issue is a line in the sand for many voters like her. Buttigieg, predictably, didn’t back down. In today’s Democratic Party, there is no room for compassion when it comes to pre-born children.
The spectre of presidential candidates campaigning on the corpses of pre-born children was too much for Camosy, and he published an op-ed in the New York Post explaining why he—and many other Democratic pro-lifers, of which there are far more than most people think—are finally done with the party. His words should make Democratic strategists tremble, but abortion activists—Sanders promised more funding for Planned Parenthood last week if he is elected president—have definitively conquered the Democrats:
Until recently, I spent much of my time working hard to elect Democrats to public office — but the early presidential campaigning pushed me away from the party, as well prompting my resignation from the board of Democrats for Life, where I had served since 2014.
For someone who is progressive on most issues, this decision doesn’t come easy. Like most Democrats, I believe government has an energetic role to play to support women, families and children. I support paid family leave, help with unaffordable child care, labor union rights, the Affordable Care Act, child and adoption tax credits and much else of the kind.
I’m worried about climate change. I’m an outspoken vegetarian. I believe in welcoming refugees and immigrants. I oppose needless wars. But the party gave me no choice. Yes, ours was a small group, but as many as a third of Democrats identify as pro-life. Even when party leadership finally met with us, they didn’t take us seriously.
When we showed them that pro-life Democrats would beat Republicans in certain districts, it didn’t matter. Even when we called for more reproductive choices for women with difficult pregnancies through services like perinatal hospice care, party leaders ignored us.
Anything even hinting that abortion is less than good now violates party orthodoxy.
Normally, Democrats are the party of energetic government protecting the vulnerable from violence. But when it comes to abortion, elite Democrats turn into hard-core libertarians, believing the state has no business getting involved in the private choices of individuals. Abortion is merely “health care,” and the unborn child, unimaginably vulnerable even when wanted, is made invisible and violently discarded.
On this topic, at least, the party has dug in on the side of what Pope Francis calls the “throwaway culture” — the troubling modern tendency to discard people seen as inconvenient. The Democratic elite even rejects conscience protections for medical practitioners who object to abortion. Opposition to taxpayer-funded abortions, once acceptable, has become taboo.
The straw that broke this camel’s back was Pete Buttigieg’s extremism. Here was a mainstream Democratic candidate suggesting, at one point, that abortion is OK up to the point the baby draws her first breath.
When I heard that, I realized we were fighting a losing battle.
If the party was willing to go all-in on the most volatile issue of our time with a position held by only 13 percent of the population, it was time to take no for an answer.
Many find it difficult to understand how a single issue could be so motivating for so many millions of people. If that’s you, put abortion out of your mind for the moment and consider the following thought experiment.
Suppose that hundreds of thousands of children are being killed each year in horrific ways. Often they are killed because they have Down syndrome. Sometimes, it is because their grandparents thought their parents were too young and irresponsible to have a child. Very often, it is because an abusive partner demands that the child be killed on threat of violence.
And then suppose a political party claimed this killing was a social good. Just another kind of health care. Something to shout about with pride.
This party, it should go without saying, would be unsupportable.
Then keep in mind pro-lifers rightly see no moral distinction between a living human child at seven weeks gestation with a four-chambered heart pumping blood, a prenatal child at 20 weeks gestation who, we now know, can almost certainly feel pain, and older children who have already been born.
Then do the math. The reasoning should be clear.
My broader values mean I can’t vote Republican, however, and this makes me one of many millions of Americans for whom our political duopoly doesn’t work.
I decided to play the long game by joining the American Solidarity Party, a small but growing group that refuses to compromise on support for women, protection for prenatal children and solidarity for working people and the poor and vulnerable.
But millions of others who don’t share my broader values will reluctantly feel forced to check the box for a Republican in November. And Democrats will have no one to blame but their own extremism.
I’ve long thought that voting Democrat has become morally indefensible. For many pro-lifers, the willingness of Never Trumpers like David Frum to vote for a party that will not even vote against infanticide showed either hypocrisy (did they ever care about pre-born children?) or hideously misplaced priorities. Any of the Never Trumpers who advocated voting for Democrats—or in Frum’s case and a few others, voting for Hillary Clinton, the abortion queen herself—immediately lost all credibility in the conservative movement, especially among the so-cons. The idea that casting a vote for Trump was more morally repulsive than casting a vote for people who have built their careers defending millions of abortions exposed them as people of fluid principle at best.
The other camp of Never Trumpers, however, is a different story. There are many—including David French and some rigidly pro-life friends of mine—who see Trump’s character and behavior as rendering him ineligible for office, and not without reason. But they also see voting for the Democratic Party as reprehensible, and so many of them will either decline to vote or write in somebody else. Disagree with them if you like, but this is an ethical response to the electoral choice we face, even if it is the minority one. Their voices have a moral clarity and urgency that those like David Frum utterly lack, because they have not compromised themselves on fundamental issues in their opposition to the president.
And finally, as Camosy indicated, there is the majority. Most people, having seen that Trump might be a train-wreck incapable of moderation (going after his enemies at the Prayer Breakfast?) but is still following through on his policy promises, judicial appointments, have decided that voting for Trump is the best choice available. Many of his original detractors have been won over by his aggressive advocacy on behalf of conservative causes (including his powerful appearance at the March for Life.) And most of all, the Democrats seem determined to remind voters almost daily that handing them the presidency will enable the most virulent form of abortion extremism America has ever seen.