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The very smart, very serious Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, has an op-ed in the Washington Post called “If Republicans Keep Ignoring Abortion, They’ll Lose in the Midterm Elections.” She writes:

Republicans oppose President Obama’s health-care reform effort for many reasons: It will cost too much, it’s “socialist,” it’s big government at its worst. But they are letting Stupak and his fellow antiabortion Democrats lead on that issue. And the more the GOP ignores abortion and focuses on economic populism—taking up the “tea party” cause—the more the party risks leaving crucial votes behind in November.

That’s right—and yet, it isn’t. There are genuine reasons for pro-lifers to resist any move toward a nationalized health-care system. The iniquitous distribution of American healthcare is a scandal, but even the incomplete moves of the current plan create a system that no future bureaucracy or Congress will be able to resist using for purposes of social engineering. And, given the condition of social-elite opinion today, that will always mean increased government-sponsored abortion and euthanasia.

For that matter, Marjorie is exactly right that a Republican attempt to ignore the social issues—a deliberate effort to marginalize the pro-life vote—will leave the evangelical and serious Catholic voters uninspired.

But the argument can go too far. Partly, of course, it does so when it downplays the fact that the Democratic Bart Stupak has been heroic in his insistence on the importance of abortion. This was someone, after all, who had always favored healthcare reform—he was always going to vote for the Democratic program, since it was something that he desired. But he nonetheless held firm on abortion, even when what seemed like every editorial page in the nation was against him, and even while prominent self-proclaimed pro-lifers in the Senate, from Reid to Casey, were giving him cover.

But the argument can go too far, as well, if it suggests that Republicans are the natural pro-life party, and Democrats the natural pro-abortion party. All of American politics has been corrupted by this murderous procedure, and, at present, the party platforms are clear enough. But pro-life forces should not want an America in which the great pro-life message is shoved off into one party. We shouldn’t want an America that squanders its religious exceptionalism by having a political party of believers and a political party of non-believers—a European-style division between the Christian Democrats and the Socialists.

This is everyone’s issue, we must believe, and when Democrats such as Bart Stupak arrive, they ought to be celebrated.

Besides, pro-lifers have greater leverage within the Republican party when the Democrats offer an alternative. Want to encourage Republican leaders toward greater accommodation of the pro-life movement in the next election? Praise Bart Stupak now.

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