Opinion

Shame on the GOP for saving Planned Parenthood

If anything was worth shutting down the federal government over, it was this

Let me state this at the outset: Abortion is the worst moral abomination of our time. As a rationalist, I believe in the science that tells me life begins at conception, and as a child of the Enlightenment, I believe in the inalienable dignity of every single human being.

I point this out in case there was anyone left who hadn't noticed that, with few exceptions, battle lines over the videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress about Planned Parenthood have broken down over pro-choice/pro-life lines. This isn't surprising. If you want less abortion, you want to do harm to Planned Parenthood. I want less abortion.

Which brings me, sadly, to a recurring topic in American politics: The astonishing stupidity and ineptitude of the Republican Party.

I have written in the past about how ill-served the pro-life movement is by the Republican Party (despite the fact that structural realities have created this unhappy marriage of convenience).

But, in the wake of the videos, the GOP decided to at least try to get its act together and defund Planned Parenthood. It's hard to overstate what a moral and practical victory this would been for human flourishing.

Given the intransigence of the militantly pro-choice Democratic Party, and perhaps tactical bumbling on the part of Republicans, there was no way to defund Planned Parenthood without a showdown over shutting down the federal government.

Look: If anything is worth shutting down the federal government over, it's this.

And I get it. The political reality is simple: The GOP has exhausted its temper tantrum credit. It's already tried to shut down the government over ObamaCare, and over entitlements, and so now that there's finally something truly worth shutting down the government over, the political capital is gone. In a presidential election cycle, you want to keep GOP intransigence off the front pages.

And this is partly my fault. At the time, I supported the brinkmanship over ObamaCare, which I soon regretted, and now regret even more bitterly. We've been stupid, myself very much included.

But as bad as ObamaCare is, and as bad as runaway entitlements and government spending are, Planned Parenthood is different. It is, literally, a matter of life and death. Doing this would directly save thousands of human lives.

Yes, I get the political reality. But it's still a shame that the Republican Party, once again, caved on an issue of such importance.

It's time for the Republican Party to get its act together and be smarter tactically about political battles around abortion. For example, it might have been a good idea to pair defunding Planned Parenthood with tax credits for companies that offer maternity leave.

And it is time for the pro-life movement to be better at managing the GOP, which, again, pretends to be pro-life, but whose elites generally disdain our cause.

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