Friday, April 1, 2016

Donald Trump’s “Pro-Life” Masquerade—UPDATED

Donald Trump with Chris Matthews.
(Image source: NBCNews.com.)
Donald Trump’s statement that women who have abortions should be punished was not the first thing he’s said that’s caused the pro-life movement to doubt the sincerity of his conversion. If anything, it finally confirms that Trump has worn his pro-life conversion like a mask. Robert P. George comments, “Mr. Trump seems to have stumbled onto the best possible way of signaling to true pro-lifers that he is not one of them.”

The Caricature and the Truth

Of course, Trump lost very little time walking back his statement, since just about every person with an IQ over 85 on all points of the issue spectrum criticized it. Just as predictably, the pro-Clinton and pro-abort forces lost very little time capitalizing on his error, since Trump— for a brief moment and on video — had become the caricature of the pro-lifer just about every hard-core pro-abort nurtures in her most dystopian fantasies. People like Planned Parenthood Action Fund EVP Dawn Laguens are more than happy to accept Trump’s pro-life mask as his true face, because his blunt style allows them to claim that Trump is “only saying what they are really thinking”.

As we say down South: No, that’s not what we think at all, bless their hearts.

The fact is, prior to the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), none of the states criminalized women for seeking abortions; legal penalties were reserved solely to abortionists. The pro-life movement from its beginning understood that the vast majority of women who seek abortion don’t do so willingly, let alone cheerfully, and that many suffer pressure, even coercion, from others to end their pregnancy. Ironically, for all their professed concern about women, pro-aborts turn a blind eye to offenses against women’s health and intrinsic dignity whenever action against these violations threatens access to abortion. Punishing women for aborting their children is not now, has never been, and will never be, implicit in the pro-life agenda.

In Our Own Words

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, frequently references early leaders of the women’s liberation movement, much to the irritation of pro-abort activists. In her statement on Trump, Dannenfelser said:

Mattie Brinkerhoff, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, said that when a woman undergoes an abortion it is evidence she has been “greatly wronged.” The Revolution, the newspaper owned and operated by Susan B. Anthony published an op-ed asserting that, on abortion, “thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime.” Alice Paul was known to have called abortion “the ultimate exploitation of women.”


Being pro-life means wanting what is best for the mother and the baby. Women who choose abortion often do so in desperation and then deeply regret such a decision. No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion. This is against the very nature of what we are about. We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment.


At no time in Ohio Right to Life’s history have we ever supported legislation that incriminates post-abortive women. We know without a doubt that abortion takes one life and hurts the mother. Post-abortive women are essential to the pro-life cause, and we refuse to amplify the pain and trauma that they will undoubtedly deal with for the rest of their lives.

Gondiakis’ statement might strike some as a bit utilitarian in its reference to post-abortive women. However, there are several pro-life groups and ministries that speak out from the experience of women who have had abortions, such as Silent No More and Ramah International’s Post-Abortion Syndrome ministry. Women are not in any sense secondary victims of abortion, in the pro-life calculus; part of our argument is that legal access to abortion makes things worse, not better, for women.


To be pro-life means to be pro-woman. It doesn’t mean that we love the babies and we forget about the mothers. What it means is very simple: Why can’t we love them both? Protect them both? Welcome and care for them both? We can and together we will.

If there’s any criticism to be leveled, it’s that some pro-life libertarians and conservatives treat their anti-abortion politics like their economic politics: they focus on the “supply” side of the equation and pay little to no attention to the “demand” side. This is not unexpected, given libertarian loathing of government interventions (and — shudder! — the tax dollars they cost). However, it’s foolish to assume that, without the “supply” of abortion mills, the social problems which create the “demand” for abortion will solve themselves.

Thank You, Chris Matthews

Nevertheless, not wanting to spend public moneys on government programs that would help women choose life is a far cry from wanting to see them imprisoned. The pro-aborts may convince themselves that Trump was “outing” the pro-life movement. But the fact remains that Trump badly miscalculated the appeal such a statement would have. Yes, he was cornered into that position by Chris Matthews. However, no true pro-life candidate would have given such an answer even under pressure.

If anything, pro-life voters who were considering Donald Trump as a pro-life alternative to either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders ought to give thanks to Matthews for exposing Trump’s phoniness. For there remains time to find and rally support around a real pro-life candidate, even if that candidate isn’t a Republican. After this point, people who believe Trump is pro-life are simply fooling themselves.


We’re not “distancing ourselves” from Trump. We’re pointing out that the distance was always there. Take off the mask, Mr. Trump. The masquerade is over.

UPDATE: April 2, 2016

This just gets better and better: In an interview with “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson on CBS News, Donald Trump responded to Dickerson’s questions about his walk-back with a confusing set of evasive answers, at one point saying, “At this moment the laws are set and I think we have to leave it that way.” CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond later informed his followers on Twitter that Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks clarified matters:

Mr. Trump gave an accurate account of the law as it is today and made clear it must stay that way now — until he is President. Then he will change the law through his judicial appointments and allow the states to protect the unborn. There is nothing new or different here.

Exactly ... nothing new here, just Trump saying what he thinks people want to hear. Except he’s not quite sure who he should be speaking to at the moment.

I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to be a more obvious phony than Hillary Clinton, at least until Trump came into the race. However, HRC’s supporters are fully aware of her weaknesses; they’re prepared to vote for her because 1) she’s got government experience, 2) she’s at least consistently pro-abortion, and 3) she’s got a vag. (Yes, there are feminists prepared to vote for her precisely because she’s a woman. I suspect many of them would have voted for Carly Fiorina — or even Lucrezia Borgia — under other circumstances.) Frankly, the only honest candidate for president is Bernie Sanders; I'd consider voting for him if he weren’t pro-abortion and didn’t back assaults on First Amendment conscience protections; alas, he is and does.

Mister Trump, walking back statements is no longer good enough. Walk back your entire campaign. If you won’t drop out, at least start telling us what you really think and what you’d really do, instead of playing to the wingnuts in the audience. If this comic-opera buffoonery is all you have to offer, you don’t deserve to be President.