Legislating Morality with Vampire Ladies

Anne Rice, who rose to prominence as the author of lots of creepy vampire novels, is now a devout Christian who, in an August 10, 2007 missive to the Rice faithful that is no longer online, announced that she is:

A) Fiercely pro-life on the issue of abortion, and
B) A Democrat endorsing Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

Come again? Pro-life Hillary supporters aren’t exactly thick on the ground. How does she reconcile these two seemingly irreconcilable positions? She begins by saying “…the Democratic Party best reflects the values I hold based on the Gospels… Those values involve feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, and above all, loving one’s neighbors and loving one’s enemies.”

I’ve heard more than one Democrat make similar arguments, saying, in essence, that since Democrats support the redistribution of wealth to ameliorate economic inequality, they have more compassion for the poor than the capitalist pigs in the Republican Party, who only care about moneybags and yachts and the bald fat guy with the monocle on the front of the Monopoly game box.

(Her statement about “loving one’s enemies” would also suggest that she’s a pacifist, but I want to set that aside for the moment.)

On the issue of abortion, she says the following: “I want to add here that I am Pro-Life. I believe in the sanctity of the life of the unborn.”

If you only read that far, you might assume, as I did, that she merely tolerates the pro-choice position of her fellow Democrats because she’s deeply committed to the party’s other principles, and she hopes to change the party from within. There are many pro-life Democrats who think this way; indeed, there are likely far more of them than the party itself is willing to acknowledge.

But this is not her position.

“Deeply respecting those who disagree with me,” she says, which makes me feel deeply respected, “I feel that if we are to find a solution to the horror of abortion, it will be through the Democratic Party.”

Uhhhh… hello?

See, it turns out that all pro-lifers, with the exception of Anne, are insincere jerks. “I have heard many anti-abortion statements made by people who are not Democrats,” she says, “but many of these statements do not strike me as constructive or convincing… I am also not convinced that all of those advocating anti-abortion positions in the public sphere are necessarily practical or sincere.”

So, okay. Only Democrats are constructive, convincing, practical and sincere. What, then, should these constructive, convincing, practical and sincere folks do about the problem?

Well, apparently, nothing, according to Rice. “I feel we can stop the horror of abortion,” she says. “But I do not feel it can be done by rolling back Roe vs. Wade, or packing the Supreme Court with judges committed to doing this… I am not sure – as a student of history – that Americans should give up the right to abortion… I have not heard convincing arguments put forth by anti-abortion politicians as to how Americans could be forced to give birth to children that Americans do not want to bear. And more to the point, I have not heard convincing arguments from these anti-abortion politicians as to how we can prevent the horror of abortion right now, given the social situations we have.”

So she personally believes abortion is immoral and a “horror,” but no political steps should be taken to end it. This, Ms. Rice, is the same position of held by many of your fellow Democrats, including John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and likely Hillary Rodham Clinton herself. It can be summed up thus: abortion sucks, but it should be legal.

That, Ms. Rice, is the pro-choice position.

You simply can’t say that you’re “pro-life” but choice comes first. By definition, what you are “pro” is where your priorities are. A pro-life position presumes that the life of the unborn baby takes precedence over the mother’s individual choices, even if you “deeply respect” the freedom of a woman to make almost all other choices. The converse is also true – pro-choicers presume that the woman’s choice in the matter is paramount, no matter how deeply you respect the right of the unborn child to live.

However, all this is prelude to my real point, which is that the abortion debate illustrates how profoundly much of the electorate – and, indeed, how many elected officials – fundamentally misunderstand the relationship between law and morality.

Consider this. Ms. Rice would have the government come and, through taxation, confiscate your wealth involuntarily in order to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and fulfill the teachings of Jesus. At the same time, she insists abortion, which she considers “a morally abhorrent option,” should remain legal because she has no right to inflict her moral sensibilities on the electorate as a whole. Or, to frame it in clichéd terms, you can’t legislate morality.

Except, in the previous instance, that’s exactly what she’s doing.

In fact, she cites the legislation of morality as the primary reason she’s a Democrat. She wants the full power of government enlisted in efforts to create a society that reflects her moral framework. Yet many Christians, like me, insist that government redistribution of wealth exacerbates the problems it pretends to solve and abrogates personal freedom in the process. Sadly, I am unable to be “pro-choice” on the wealth redistribution issue, because if I refuse to pay the taxes necessary to fund all the well-intended social programs, I get tossed in the slammer.

How can Democrats – or the bleeding heart Republicans who get sucked into this nonsense – justify subverting my choices on how I use my wealth while decrying any attempt to subvert choice on abortion?

I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer to that question.

The fact is that we legislate morality every time we pass a law. We, as a society, unanimously agree that cold-blooded murder is morally wrong, so we made it illegal. There is a clear moral consensus against theft and fraud and child abuse and most of the things we legislate to prevent. Where the legislative process becomes more difficult is in areas where the moral consensus is far from unanimous. And that includes the issue of abortion.

Ms. Rice has “hopes and dreams and prayers” that “better education will help men and women make responsible reproductive choices, and that abortion will become a morally abhorrent option from which informed Americans will turn away.” Fair enough. I share those hopes, dreams, and prayers. But once the country reaches a clear consensus that abortion is deeply immoral in almost all cases, the polity has a duty to enact legislation to condemn it.

Except, unfortunately, the judiciary has made it impossible for anyone to take legislative action against abortion. And that sucks. More on that later.

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