December 16, 2005

The All-Consuming Abortion Issue

I am reading Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new book. One passage early in the book struck me.

GOODWIN: “The issue of slavery could no longer be put aside. It would dominate the debates in Congress. As Thomas Hart Benton once colorfully observed: ‘We read in Holy Writ, that a certain people were cursed by the plague of frogs, and that the plague was everywhere! You could not look upon the table but there were frogs, you could not sit down at the banquet but there were frogs, you could not go to the bridal couch and lift the sheets but there were frogs!’ A similar affliction infested national discourse as every other topic was subsumed by slavery. ‘We can see nothing, touch nothing, have no measures proposed, without having this pestilence thrust before us. Here it is, this black question forever on the table, on the nuptial couch, everywhere!’”

ME: Sounds a lot like the abortion issue today -- particularly when it comes to issues of judicial selection. Sadly, a jurist with a long and proven track record of fairness and honesty, like Samuel Alito, gets caught in the crossfire. In his attempts to honestly read and apply the law in a variety of situations, he has issued opinions on both the pro-life and the pro-choice sides of the abortion debate. Yet still he is raked over the coals on the abortion issue because he does not routinely rubber stamp the pro-choice position.

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