May 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – With Alabama’s new pro-life law pushing the national abortion conversation further to the right, conservative lawmakers and pro-life activists are devoting part of their attention to shoring up support within the Republican Party for banning abortion even in the so-called “hard cases” of rape, incest, and maternal “health.”
Earlier this month, Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, which criminalizes abortion for any reason other than to “avert (a mother’s) death or to avert serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function,” or “if a second physician who is licensed in Alabama as a psychiatrist” diagnoses a “serious mental illness” with a “reasonable medical judgment that she will engage in conduct that could result in her death or the death of her unborn child.”
Because the law restricts more abortions than any other pro-life law in the country, its passage has been met with joy from pro-life activists, outrage from the abortion lobby and its allies, and some strategic disagreement among conservatives. The reaction from national Republican leaders has been mixed – Vice President Mike Pence praised Alabama for “embracing life” while House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy said it “goes further than I believe.” President Donald Trump did not specifically address the law, but reiterated his support for rape and incest exceptions while urging pro-lifers to focus on the 2020 elections.
On Thursday, Vice reported that it has obtained a memo distributed by the Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus within the U.S. House of Representatives, calling on their party to defend Alabama’s “bold new pro-life legislation” and providing talking points for defending a no-exceptions pro-life position.
“Unfortunately, the media is attempting to use these new developments to create ‘gotcha moments’ for Republicans and a divide within our party,” it says. “While some Republicans may disagree with the timing and/or particular legal strategies being implemented with the various state measures, it is critical our members speak with clarity and conviction about the broader issue of the sanctity and inherent value of every human life.”
“Conservatives believe every single human life has inestimable dignity and inherent value,” it reminds Republicans. Rape and incest “are horrific incidents that are incredibly traumatic for the victims, and we should do absolutely everything in our power not only to punish these abuses but also to prevent these atrocities from ever occurring. We should not, however, give a death sentence to the innocent child.”
The document advises lawmakers to defend the law by emphasizing that “committing a second violent act with abortion to a woman who has already been victimized by an act of rape or incest could physically or psychologically wound her further,” stressing that rape and incest survivors be given all the healing resources they need, and ultimately remembering that every “single child should be afforded the opportunity to live, regardless of how they were conceived.”
On Wednesday, a coalition of pro-life leaders released an open letter to Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, who said this week she “personally” favors exceptions, “but we are a party that is a broad tent. If you agree with us 80 percent of the time, I want you to be a Republican.”
The letter, signed by leaders including Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins, Ryan and Bethany Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation. Live Action president Lila Rose, Abby Johnson, Father Frank Pavone, and others, urged the GOP to reconsider its support for abortion exceptions.
“With such a widening gulf between the parties, we are asking that the Republican Party continue their support of the abolition of abortion as it supported the abolition of slavery,” the pro-life leaders urged. “And we ask those in the party to reconsider the decades-old talking points that have become stale in light of what we have learned about life in the womb, the harms of abortion to women and their preborn children, and the human rights concerns emerging from the racial disparities of abortion as well as the prejudice against children conceived in rape and incest.”
“As a society, we don’t issue birth certificates with points ranking some people as better than others based on their parents’ race, income, marital status or events on the night of conception,” the letter pointed out. “A birth certificate tells a simple truth: a unique life is in the world. We understand that issues like rape and incest are difficult topics to tackle; nevertheless, it is our view that the value of human life is not determined by the circumstances of one’s conception or birth.”
The letter urged Republicans and pro-lifers to “reconsider the messaging that the abortion industry used and still uses to justify their deadly enterprise” and the opportunity it’s presented to educate the public on “advocating for all our children, no matter their conception story.” It concluded by offering a meeting between pro-life and GOP leaders to “learn more on how we can collectively advocate for a pro-life America at this moment in time, as life is too precious a national resource to waste.”