David Frum

10.25.12

Don't Let the GOP Become the Party of Rape

The editors of National Review agree with Mourdock: no abortion even in cases of rape.

Science tells us that human lives begin at conception. Reason persuades us that it is wrong to will the death of human beings, regardless of their age, location, or state of dependency; and wrong, as well, to withhold legal protection on such bases. Our argument does not, that is, proceed from any claim to special access to the mind of God.

It is reasoning, as well, that persuades us that the innocent human beings created through rape deserve protection.

My own suggestion would be that if your reasoning process leads to a conclusion this goofy - that a rape victim must be compelled to bear her assailant's child - then perhaps you ought to check your work. There's an error in there somewhere.

But maybe more politically relevantly: it's important to realize that Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's words about rape and abortion were no "gaffe." They were not an expression of Akin-style biological ignorance. They revealed the mindset of an important part of the pro life movement - a mindset shared by the Republican party's nominee for vice president of the United States. "I've always adopted the idea that, the position that the method of conception doesn't change the definition of life," said Ryan -and that's after joining the national ticket.

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The great Catholic controversialist GK Chesterton is often quoted as saying that a madman is one who has lost everything except his reason. That seems a fair explanation of the dead end into which some segments of the pro life movement have marched themselves.

In 2006, National Review's lead writer on abortion-related issues, Ramesh Ponnuru, published a book titled, The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life. It would be a sad outcome if extremist pro-life advocacy ended by branding the GOP the party of rape.