Quit Using Ted Kennedy’s Death to Advance the Pro-Abortion Health Care Agenda
by Dave Andrusko
August 31, 2009
LifeNews.com Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. He writes Today’s News and Views — an online editorial column on pro-life issues.
I am so ancient that I was there when the plaster was still hardening. I was in college when the myth of Camelot and President John F. Kennedy was created from the charisma of the young White House couple and their extended family.
Although not caught up in the same way millions of people were (on meeting the President, violinist Isaac Stern said, "I felt as though I were inside a golden coach drawn by four pure-bred white horses into the glitter of mythic Camelot"), I fully understand the almost magical allure of the term Jackie Kennedy used to characterize her husband’s administration.
I mention that only because I know some pro-abortionists will willfully distort what I say. What follows is neither an attempt to debunk the notion that there was "one brief, shining moment," even less a "personal attack" on the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, JFK’s brother.
It is instead a critique of the cynical use of Sen. Kennedy’s death to attempt to pass a health care "reform" bill that is unacceptable to massive sectors of the American public, including pro-lifers.
But it is also important to take a moment to address another example of pro-abortion grotesque distortion of the historical record. It refers specifically to Sen. Kennedy, but it also applies more generally to a number of Democrats who sold out on abortion to move up the party ladder.
At the risk of stating what ought to be obvious, you don’t reorganize/restructure 1/6th of the national economy out of gratitude to anyone. If health care "reform" passes, it ought to pass on its merits.
The reason "reform" is floundering is precisely because its proponents are not being honest with the American people about something that affects each and every one of us–and then indignantly turn their wrath on people who refuse to be bamboozled.
Pro-abortion Newsweek columnist Eleanor Clift is only the most recent unseemly example of someone attempting to leverage Sen. Kennedy’s death. Her column is titled, "Return of the Abortion Question: Opponents of health-care reform are gearing up to bring abortion back into the debate," which really tells you all you need know.
(LifeNews.com Note: National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson has rebutted her article here.)
Pro-lifers did not "bring abortion back into the debate." We’ve attempted to keep it out of the debate. The pro-abortion Democratic congressional leadership has been given numerous chances to make a clean break with those components of the various bills that contain bonanzas for the abortion industry. As you would expect, they’ve turned them all down.
And, without going into specifics, Clift–who has long operated as a stenographer for the Abortion Establishment–dutifully regurgitates all the misleading talking points cranked out by the likes of Planned Parenthood. Such has it always been. Such will it always be.
But the larger point is the really dangerous game pro-abortionists are playing–the demonization of virtually everyone who refuses to be a chump. This is not healthy for the Democratic Party, but, more important, it is poisonous to the Body Politic.
If you believe Patrick Whelan and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (Sen. Kennedy’s niece), Sen. Kennedy was just minding his own business speaking "forcefully against abortion during his first decade in the Senate" when he was waylaid by cynical conservatives who "appropriate[d] Christian language as a political weapon to defeat New Deal Democrats."
This is so patently dishonest, such a willful distortion of the historical record it almost takes your breath away. Tim Rutten, the media critic for the Los Angeles Times, ladles in his own distortions. He writes about a meeting held in 1964 at which the Kennedy and Shriver families convened "a group of eminent Catholic theologians at Hyannis Port to discuss whether Catholic officeholders could licitly support pro-choice laws."
It would take multiple paragraphs to thoroughly rebut Rutten’s faulty characterizations, but the effect of the meeting was that a select group of "moral theologians" gave pro-abortion Catholic politicians cover. That meeting and subsequent follow ups were the origin of the "personally opposed" gambit.
Suffice it to say that even with the elastic justifications offered to the Kennedys, in theory it was only to "permit abortion under certain circumstances." But Sen. Kennedy opposed every initiative to hem in abortion even at the farthest margins–for example, he even opposed the ban on partial-birth abortions–and was the Abortion Establishment’s Knight in Shining Armor.
By the way, it’s fine for pro-abortionists to trash pro-lifers. We’re all adults, and we can take it just fine. But grossly distorting the record is one thing. It is quite another for Whelan and Kennedy Townsend to tell us that "One thing that troubled [Sen. Ted Kennedy] most" was "the rising acrimony in politics " That goes beyond the pale.
Can anyone name an unmistakable turning point when rough- and-tumble politics became the politics of character assassination? Of course.
It occurred in 1987 when Sen. Kennedy unleashed a vicious, unscrupulous, and malicious assault on Judge Robert Bork when he was nominated to the Supreme Court. It worked–one of the preeminent legal scholars of our day was defeated–signaling to the pro-abortion side that the ends do justify the use of any and all means.
So the point is simply this. We must patiently debunk every distortion each and every time they rear their ugly heads. And we must simply shrug our shoulders and carry on each time we are characterized as "surly conservatives" who will "drown out the serious voices" by "spread[ing] misconceptions," etc., etc.
How? Well, for starter, by reading TN&V daily, by visiting www.nrlactioncenter.com regularly, and by sharing what you learn there with all your pro-life contacts.
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