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Jerry Shenk


Dent Short-Circuits House Anti-Abortion Push

by Jerry Shenk
 

Many practical conservatives would prefer to avoid social issues, to focus on the economy and winning the White House.

In fact, some blamed Rick Santorum's 2012 attention-attracting exploitation of social issues for aiding President Barack Obama's reelection by allowing Obama and media allies to distract the Republican primary field and voters from Obama's abysmal first term record.

Nevertheless, when social issues do arise, the party's conservative base expects elected Republicans to cast what should be easy votes for moral social causes such as banning late term abortions.

Gallup polling indicates that 61 percent of Americans tolerate abortion in the first trimester, after which approval drops precipitously. 73 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be outlawed in the second trimester; 86 percent oppose it in the third.

Third-trimester abortions are so overwhelmingly unpopular that 79 percent of people who consider themselves "pro-choice" oppose them
Today, despite some first-trimester ethical conflicts, more Americans identify as "pro-life" than "pro-choice." Somewhat surprisingly, in 2010, young Americans between ages 18 and 29 were more opposed to abortion than nearly any other age group.

In January, on the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the US House of Representatives avoided a vote to protect unborn, pain-capable children approaching viability.

According to Rep. Charlie Dent's (PA-15) hometown newspaper, "The [House abortion] legislation sought to ban…abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with exemptions for some victims of rape or incest and…when a woman's life was in danger." …

"But after some female and…moderate GOP legislators -- including Lehigh Valley Republican Charlie Dent -- pushed back, House leaders switched course, instead calling a vote on a ban on using federal funds for abortions."…

"Dent said that bill was something 'much more appropriate' for the chamber to be considering than the 20-week ban."

Remember, second-trimester abortions are opposed by nearly three-fourths of Americans. The second trimester begins six weeks before the 20-week ban in the House bill.

The bill might have failed in the Senate, and, if passed there, faced a likely presidential veto, but one wonders why the House — at Charlie Dent's urging -- withdrew a bill expressing principled sentiments on a moral matter favored by a preponderance of Americans.

National Review's Kevin Williamson, adopted as an infant following a full-term unwanted pregnancy, was outraged: "The House of Representatives and its Republican leadership had a chance to take a vote on the question of extending the protection of our nation's laws to people like me."…

"This bill was not a problem for Republicans, but for a handful of House members. Majorities of men support these changes, as do majorities of women -- for that matter, only 17 percent of the people who describe themselves as 'pro-choice' support the current anything-goes abortion regime. On a question that really matters, the House of Representatives had a rare chance to take 'Yes' for an answer."

Williamson concluded that "Yes" wasn't the answer Republican leadership — and Charlie Dent — wanted.



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