June 28, 2018
Endangered species are usually something we try to protect -- but not when those endangered species are pro-abortion Republicans! Over the past few years, the GOP has become a tough environment for Republicans who aren't committed to advocating for the unborn. Now, with President Trump boldly leading the charge for life, most of the party's more liberal members have seen the writing on the wall.
The retirement of Congressmen Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) signals the end of what was once a struggle within the GOP. Politico's Jennifer Haberkorn talked about the significance of the change, writing that the House GOP can finally close ranks on abortion. Next year, she points out, the "rare breed" of anti-life Republicans "will finally be extinct." "The retirements of Reps. Charlie Dent and Rodney Frelinghuysen mark the end of the line for abortion rights supporters in the Republican Conference," Haberkorn writes. "And there's no GOP nominee in a competitive race who backs abortion rights this year, according to party officials."
In other words, barring some major upset in five months, the GOP will officially be the party of life. Rep. Richard Hanna, one of the pro-abortion casualties of the GOP landscape, learned his lesson the hard way. Opting to retire in 2016 rather than lose his seat, Hanna explained, "The issue was put into so many bills, and it became such a deep belief system of the Republican Party. They all jumped on board because they know fighting it doesn't pay. You can't win. I certainly couldn't."
The party's position is so absolute that Republican Majority for Choice announced earlier this week that it was closing its doors after more than 30 years. Miffed that they were "dismissed by party leaders," the group's leaders explained the decision in a column for the New York Times. "Our founding principle had been that proponents of abortion rights should be comfortable in both major parties. But we have to face reality: There probably will not be a single pro-choice Republican member of the House after the fall election, and only two in the Senate -- Ms. Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. It has become taboo within the party to even say 'pro-choice.'"
For pro-lifers, who remember the days when pastors were actually jailed for protesting abortion, seeing the GOP speak with one voice on the unborn is the answer to decades of prayer. So, many would argue, is the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. In the whirlwind 24 hours since the Supreme Court's announcement, the reaction of both sides (as anyone would expect) was quite different: jubilation from conservatives, despair (and profanity) from liberals. Abortion groups started whipping supporters into a panic almost immediately. "Kennedy was the firewall for abortion rights for as long as he was there," the New York Times pointed out. "He has been the defining force in American abortion law since the '90s, so his absence means that Roe will be in more peril."
NARAL leaders began the public hand-wringing, insisting that "a woman's... access to abortion is in dire, immediate danger." It's a "catastrophe for liberals," echoed Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern. "Abortion access, same-sex marriage, voting rights, environmental regulations -- they're all on the line now." And both parties know it. At the very least, the Times goes on, Kennedy's retirement will "redraw the well-established legal battle lines over abortion rights, making it more probable that the court would move to uphold new restrictions and, potentially, abandon Roe altogether." Which is exactly how conservatives came to support Trump in the first place. He promised to reshape the courts with objective, principled, constitutionalists. He's done it from the lowest judicial vacancies all the way to the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch. Almost two years later, as I told the Times, the religious conservatives who backed him because of his promise to name a pro-life justice have been vindicated. They took a risk -- and the reward is five solid votes for life.
For now, all eyes will be on the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who deftly turned the vacancy Scalia's vacancy into a galvanizing issue in the 2016 presidential election. "We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy's successor this fall," he told reporters yesterday." And, as the president himself confirmed, his nominee will be someone from the list he released before the 2016 election. "We have a very excellent list of great, talented, highly educated, highly intelligent, hopefully, tremendous people... I think the list is very outstanding."
Both developments, the evolution of the Republican Party and the president's commitment to select another quality justice, are the fruits of decades of hard work from pro-lifers. "Let us not be weary in well doing," Galatians 6:9 tells us, "for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." The pro-life movement is proof of that promise. If we remain persistent in our stand for the truth, God promises that we will see a harvest like we're witnessing today. That ought to be an encouragement to pastors who are engaging the culture on moral issues today. Our friends in California -- entire congregations -- are challenging laws that would take away their freedom to speak openly about areas of sexual bondage. Right now, they're caught up in the present and can't see the long view -- but understand from the life movement: where we are now is not where we'll be in three decades if we stand firm on the transcendent truth of God. Yes, the LGBT issue has different dynamics, but truth is truth. And it will stand the test of time.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.