Most of us were pretty impressed this week to watch Marco Rubio school Chris Cuomo on rape exceptions, pro-life incrementalism, and embryology without breaking a sweat. But Daily Caller Senior Contributor Matt Lewis watched him there and at the debate and declared he was “worried about Rubio’s abortion stance”:
As I’ve long argued, the pro-life side wins when the discussion is about late-term abortions, but loses when it’s about things like “legitimate rape,” “transvaginal ultrasounds,” etc.
Well, then, it’s a good thing the only pro-life politician to shoot off his mouth about “legitimate rape” was one candidate most of the voters in his own primary didn’t actually want three years ago. And it’s a good thing that pro-aborts are the ones obsessed with how ultrasounds are administered, even when the pro-life laws in question don’t actually mention vaginas, never mind that transvaginal ultrasounds are already routine in abortions—they just don’t want to flip the screen around and share the image of the preborn child with the pregnant woman.
Yet, here — on the heels of the Planned Parenthood videos about harvesting the organs of babies! — we had Rubio talking about opposing exceptions in the case of rape. I was stunned[.]
Stunned that he didn’t lie when asked point-blank? Rubio didn’t bring it up. What was he supposed to do?
The real problem, of course, was that Hillary Clinton could now run an ad saying that: “Marco Rubio wants to deny you the right to choose, even in the case of rape!” — and not really be lying […] Let’s be honest, this is basically the best card Hillary will have to play.
Lewis concedes that “if you believe that life begins at conception and that abortion is murder, then allowing for exceptions is somewhat incoherent,” and that “Rubio is rhetorically equipped to make this case in the most eloquent and persuasive manner possible,” yet still wonders, “why is he making it?”
Why are we talking about rape exceptions? Why aren’t we talking about Planned Parenthood harvesting and selling the organs of babies??? My argument is that when you’re talking about rape exceptions, you’re playing on the other team’s turf. Let’s get around to worrying about debating this somewhat rare occurrence after we stop them from killing 20-week-old babies for the sake of convenience.
These are concerns to which I am not unsympathetic. It’s of course wise to focus as much of the conversation as possible on the aspects of abortion where pro-lifers enjoy the most popular consensus and pro-aborts the least. The less a pro-life candidate’s talking about rape abortions, the better.
But here’s the thing: Hillary would run that ad anyway. She’s already started, in fact, and while you could argue she wouldn’t have if last week’s question hadn’t happened, history suggests otherwise. If the past few years – from the War on Women to January’s revelation that it’s even “extreme” to cut abortion off after five months with a rape exception – have taught us anything, it’s that the pro-abortion definition of extremism is constantly expanding, and constantly contorting ourselves to evade it is a losing proposition. There will always be a new rationalization for why yesterday’s women-sensitive accommodation is today’s slap in the face to rape victims.
There is no avoiding the fact that whoever the nominee is, whatever he has or hasn’t said before, he’s going to get asked whether he would deny abortions to rape victims. And changing the subject to avoid direct questions just comes across as grating and phony, and leaves the unmistakable impression that the candidate has something to hide—probably because what they’re hiding is something the American people should fear.
So while not without its risks, preparing a serious pro-life answer to the rape question is actually the safest course, politically. In Rubio’s case, he smartly responded to Clinton’s accusation that he has an “offensive” “attitude toward women” by pointing out her extreme support for partial-birth abortion and taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, and opposition to parental notification.
How can anyone know that intelligently-articulated courage fails, when we’ve never actually witnessed Republicans trying it before?
Sure, some voters will be scared off by uncompromising talk on rape exceptions, but if Rubio paired his above remarks with a compassionate yet firm effort to humanize innocent people conceived in rape, how do we know how many wouldn’t reconsider their own notions of “mainstream”?