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Frank Schaeffer Finally Gets One Right

John on August 31, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Three months ago, Frank Schaeffer blamed the murder of George Tiller on his late father, Francis. It was an especially dishonest smear since anyone who can read can the elder Schaeffer’s work can discover for themselves that he explicitly ruled out violence and made clear that theocracy was never a goal of the “religious right.”

Now here we are three months later and Frank is hawking a new book. Suddenly he no longer wants to blame everything on the religious right but instead is arguing that the religious right itself was a predictable and even understandable response to the outrage of Roe v. Wade:

[T]he anti-healthcare reform backlash from what might be called the Sarah Palin wing of the Republican Party is once again proof that the way abortion was legalized by the Supreme Court in 1973 was foolish. Roe vs. Wade is the root of our culture wars, and it is partly why healthcare reform is threatened by antiabortion activists who have joined forces with self-interested insurance companies.

Roe was a winner-take-all act of extremism that wasn’t even necessary. At the time, abortion was being legalized state by state, with New York and California leading the way. But in an act of judicial activism that many observers on all sides of the abortion debate found disturbingly sweeping, the Supreme Court aborted all discussion of the issue and “solved” the problem by forcing the most permissive abortion law in the Western world onto an American public, which was very far from ready to accept such a thing.

It still isn’t. More than 30 years after Roe, poll numbers are moving against the decision. The battle continues.


Now that Palin and others on the far right are warning us about “death panels” and other such complete fabrications, you can thank the hostility to all things government that Roe exacerbated. Only the bitterness over Roe can explain the paranoia of the evangelical far right, wherein they see death panels lurking where others see only sensible end-of-life counseling.

Life and death decisions by unelected officials are a present reality, not an irrational fear.Because this mischaracterization gets repeated so often as fact, it’s worth pointing out yet again the truth:

  • Palin’s use of “death panels” was not related to a specific measure in the current bill but was always intended to be a warning about what could happen in future. How do we know this? Because she explained it herself in a follow up posting. Her statement was meant to highlight the danger of bureaucratic control of health care under the guidance of people like Dr. Emmanuel
  • “Sensible end-of-life counseling” is very much in the eye of the beholder. If you consider the kind of counseling that was being offered by the VA, you quickly realize that “death panels” is merely an exaggeration of a present reality. Suggesting to vulnerable seniors that they might wish to forgo treatment if confined to a wheelchair is not reasonable in my view.
  • It’s impossible to miss the irony. Frank Schaeffer is writing a column about an “act of extremism” called Roe v. Wade which has resulted in more than 40 million abortions, tens of thousands of which involved healthy, viable babies. Yet he simultaneously wants to tsk-tsk that “death panels” is a deceit which only a rube would believe. Well, no, Franky. If you’re article shows anything it’s that life and death decisions by unelected officials are a present reality, not an irrational fear.
  • Furthermore, it was done in exactly the same way that the left is now arguing for universal health coverage, i.e. by arguing that it is a right. So the connection between the two (and the expected results to come) are probably more similar than Frank wants to admit.

Getting back to Frank’s piece:

Roe should be overturned, and the debate over abortion should be settled in individual states. In most states, little would change: Abortion would remain legal, but half the population would also feel enfranchised and respected. The process would be messy, but the poison of Roe would be drained from the American bloodstream and allow everyone from bishops to evangelical leaders to follow their best (and often surprisingly liberal) instincts on matters such as healthcare reform.

On this I completely agree.  Still, it’s funny that Frank didn’t mention the 40 years of leftist extremism that preceded (and made inevitable) the religious right response when he was dishonestly blaming his father for George Tiller’s murder.

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Category: Pro-Life |

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