On Destiny’s Unfortunate Support for Pro-Abortion Politicians

Yesterday, Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder and president of New Wave Feminists, wrote an opinion piece for Dallas News entitled, “I’m pro-life and I voted for Beto O’Rourke because I’m done being used by the GOP“. To put it mildly, Destiny’s article is poorly reasoned. I would expect this kind of article from someone like Rachel Held Evans, not from someone who wants to be known as a pro-life leader. In short, “The GOP uses us, therefore we should support the pro-abortion Democrats” is, of course, a non-sequitur, mixed with a false dichotomy. There are more than two parties one can support, and there are other pro-life parties one can support if one is fed up with the GOP (rightly or wrongly; it’s not my intention to enter into this debate here). Before I begin, I want to point out that I sympathize with Destiny’s frustration at legalized abortion having gone on for so long. And I’m going to be a bit harsh in this article (and I’ll try to do it as nicely as possible). But this must be done, since Destiny’s article is likely to mislead a number of pro-life people into voting for a pro-abortion candidate for U.S. Senate.

In case you aren’t aware, Beto O’Rourke (D) is running against former presidential candidate and current senate incumbent Ted Cruz (R) for Texas U.S. senator. As you might imagine, Cruz is against abortion in all cases except when the mother’s life is in danger, and believes in defunding Planned Parenthood. O’Rourke, on the other hand, is strongly pro-abortion. I tried looking for what his exact views on abortion are but have come up empty. My google-fu is apparently not strong enough. However, on his campaign website, under “women’s health” in issues, it has the following: “Ensuring that a woman’s right to choose is not compromised by limited access to safe and legal abortion services or family planning help.” That, combined with the fact that in 2017, he voted against the 20-week abortion ban on the grounds that it would endanger the life and health of women (which, of course, is false since most late-term abortions done are not medically necessary), lead me to conclude that O’Rourke supports late-term abortion at least until the point of birth, since he opposes limiting access to “safe and legal abortion services”. As such, if you are pro-life in Texas, it seems pretty clear which is the preferred candidate.

Unfortunately, Destiny disagrees. So now let’s dig into her article and see how her case for a pro-life vote for O’Rourke is so weak.

She starts her article off with a pretty bizarre statement: she broke the “golden rule” of the pro-life movement, which is to vote Republican. Of course, this isn’t the golden rule of the pro-life movement. If there is a golden rule, it’s to vote pro-life, not vote Republican. Pro-life people are not tied to the Republican party. If the Democrat party had a pro-life platform and the Republicans ran on a pro-abortion platform, the pro-life movement would be voting Democrat. It’s the pro-life platform pro-life people cling to, not the color red. Perhaps Destiny doesn’t understand the pro-life movement as well as she thinks she does. But this alleged tie will be a recurring theme in Destiny’s article.

Next she talks about how she voted for people who had other views she found detestable, such as bombing other countries or taking children away from their families. Of course, these two statements are very much simplified and I’m not really interested in cashing them out. But needless to say, actions taken in wartime are not comparable to abortion (as war can be permissible but abortion is rarely permissible), and the situation of illegal immigration and taking children away from their parents is much more complicated than there being simply a nefarious mustache-twirling villain sitting in the Oval Office, wanting to tear children from the grasp of their parents.

She states that she’s a “consistent life ethicist”, meaning that she opposes “all forms of violence against other human beings”. Now, I’ve been a pretty vocal critic of the “consistent life ethic” for some time. It’s really just a way for some pro-life people to feel morally superior to other pro-life people. It’s just a more sophisticated form of saying “I’m more pro-life than you.” Again, I’m not really intending to debate the merits or lack thereof of this idea. But it seems pretty hollow when we consider that she voted for O’Rourke. If she really opposes all forms of violence against other human beings, why would she vote for someone who openly opposes any restrictions on abortion instead of Ted Cruz, a man who actually has a pretty good track record of pro-life votes? Just this year, Ted Cruz backed an amendment which would have defunded Planned Parenthood in Texas (the measure lost, unfortunately). In fact, political scientist Alan Abramowitz has said publicly that Cruz’s positions are on the far right, even further to the right than conservative leaders like Reagan and Gingrich, and Cruz is among the 2 or 3 most consistently conservative voices in the senate. And Destiny, the “consistent life ethicist”, thought O’Rourke would be a better choice.

Once Beto O’Rourke entered the race, though, he apparently charmed her enough to win her support. He wanted to “work with Republicans and independents”, and “find common-ground solutions” we can all get behind on nonpartisan issues. Of course, abortion being a partisan issue, one wonders why this would win Destiny’s support, especially when friend after friend warned her about O’Rourke and his many attempts to stop common-sense restrictions on abortion, which she apparently turned a blind eye to. And her rationale for turning a blind eye to this? Because her organization, New Wave Feminists, is not just a pro-life organization, but a feminist one, and Trump has made public declarations that paint him as a pretty sexist guy. But again, one wonders why this would lead her to vote for O’Rourke. Cruz is not Trump. Cruz is Cruz. And even if Cruz was a sexist in the same vein as Trump allegedly is, this should lead someone concerned about such matters to not vote. Or apparently she believes that dehumanizing unborn children is more justifiable than dehumanizing women. Or perhaps it just hasn’t exactly sunk in for Destiny that unborn children really are full persons deserving of full moral respect (I have spoken to pro-life people like this, who pay lip service to fetal personhood but don’t act as if they really believe it). No matter which it is, her decision to vote for O’Rourke is disappointing.

Destiny relies on a red herring in her article. She doesn’t have any dirt on Cruz, so she spends an inordinate amount of time talking about Trump, which has nothing to do with whether or not Cruz will be a good conservative voice in the Senate. And while it’s true that President Trump so far has not kept his campaign promise to defund Planned Parenthood, and Republicans have, in the past, failed pretty spectacularly to vote in a way consistent with their alleged pro-life views, what Destiny also fails to consider is that there are many pro-life laws that have been passed in many states, such as mandatory waiting periods and parental notification laws, which have been shown to reduce the incidences of abortion. Do you think someone like O’Rourke will support these laws? He doesn’t believe in abortion restrictions, so it doesn’t seem he would. With pro-life legislators, it is easier to pass these pro-life laws. Pro-choice legislators will make passing these laws extremely more difficult.

Continuing her red herring, she moves on to Kavanaugh. Susan Collins, she reminds us, voted yes for Kavanaugh’s confirmation because he assured her that Roe is “settled law”. Whether or not this is true has no basis on whether or not she should vote for Cruz over O’Rourke.

Destiny goes on to tell us that we have to create a post-Roe culture while Roe still stands in order to eradicate abortion from our culture. But this is simply a pipe dream. Abortion will never completely go away, even if it’s made illegal. Again, one wonders just exactly what Destiny expects of the pro-life movement. With 2,752 locations across the U.S., pregnancy care centers significantly outnumber abortion businesses, to say nothing of the number of churches in the United States who would be willing to help a woman or couple in a crisis pregnancy. The resources are there for any pregnant woman who wants them. I don’t know anyone who thinks that we should only make abortion illegal and stop there. Every pro-life advocate I know, including the leaders, agree that pregnancy care centers provide valuable services. But to claim that we should make a post-Roe culture before outlawing Roe is simply misguided and foolish. In fact, none other than moral reformer Martin Luther King, Jr., would disagree with her.

Now the other myth that gets around is the idea that legislation cannot really solve the problem and that it has no great role to play in this period of social change because you’ve got to change the heart and you can’t change the heart through legislation. You can’t legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion. Well, there’s half-truth involved here. Certainly, if the problem is to be solved then in the final sense, hearts must be changed. Religion and education must play a great role in changing the heart. But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also. So there is a need for executive orders. There is a need for judicial decrees. There is a need for civil rights legislation on the local scale within states and on the national scale from the federal government. [1]

In fact, New Wave Feminists does not have a monopoly on wanting to make abortion unthinkable. Justice for All was working toward making abortion unthinkable long before New Wave Feminists ever came around. One can work toward making abortion unthinkable while also working toward making it illegal, and we should because killing an innocent human being should be punished, and especially prevented.

Destiny mentions that she does not believe O’Rourke, like most pro-choice people, is really “pro-abortion”. He is “pro-choice” and just believes abortion to be a “necessary evil.” This might make it easier for Destiny to sleep at night, but there is evidence that countermands her statements here. The majority of Americans, including pro-choice people, oppose late-term abortions as has been shown time and again by Gallup polls. O’Rourke doesn’t believe in any restrictions on abortion, which means O’Rourke is out of touch with what the average American believes, even those on his side of the fence. If you believe in unrestricted abortion access for any reason, you are not simply pro-choice, you are pro-abortion. And while O’Rourke says he supports “safe and legal abortion access,” he has dropped the word “rare” from that slogan, meaning that he doesn’t even seem to have any moral qualms about abortion (why make it rare if there is nothing morally wrong with it?). Additionally, O’Rourke is not willing to work with the other side on this because he doesn’t believe in any restrictions on abortion. Destiny’s belief simply does not reflect reality.

The first sentence of her article states that she may have ruined her career with her vote for O’Rourke. If Destiny refuses to admit that she was wrong and recant her support for O’Rourke, then this incident should end her career as a pro-life leader. We should not have pro-life leaders who compromise their pro-life views by voting into office those who are dedicated to fighting tooth and nail to provide unlimited abortion services for women. I would hope that Destiny realizes the egregious error she’s made and does the right thing.

[1] From Martin Luther King, Jr.’s address at Western Michigan University, December 18, 1963