A response to Michael Wear in the NYT: Pro-Lifers should be wary of empty pro-life rhetoric

The good folks over at Public Discourse graciously published my response to Michael Wear’s op-ed in the New York Times. Wear is a self-described pro-life Democrat who is calling Democrat candidates back from radical positions on abortion. The problem is, as I argue in the piece, the Democratic candidates’ positions are essentially indistinct from the current Democratic Party platform, which is essentially a continuation of the aims of the Obama presidency. You can read the whole piece here, which is excerpted below:

The problem Wear identifies is not the actions of Democrats, but President Trump “casting” and “characterizing” these actions as evil. What does Wear suggest Democrats should do to avoid such attacks? In a word, messaging: “The Democratic nominee must have a clear, compelling message that will help persuadable voters see that he or she does not in fact support infanticide.”

Talk about a low bar. Instead of supporting legislation that would make infanticide clearly illegal—the kind of legislation that the Democratic-controlled House has blocked 75 times and counting—Wear recommends more nuanced messaging. One can see the campaign slogan now: “I have moral reservations about the killing of living and breathing infants, and am theoretically open to laws that might restrict such things. Vote for me in 2020!” The fact that Democrats need to state their opposition to infanticide, of all things, exposes the deep, deep problems that Democrats face on abortion—problems that begin with their unmoved commitment to Roe.

One of the most troubling aspects of Mr. Wear’s article is where he castigates recent pro-life legislative gains in the states as “Republican extremism.” If outlawing the killing of babies is extreme, I don’t want to be anodyne. And I think pro-life voters, regardless of Democratic strategy and outreach, don’t want to be either.

If your messaging to pro-life voters begins with “support Roe” and ends with “heartbeat bills are extreme,” then I don’t think you understand pro-life voters. And I hope that pro-life voters won’t be taken in by the deceptive “messaging” Wear recommends.”

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