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April 05, 2007

BWI: Blogging While Ignorant

I apologize. I really didn't know what the Hyde Amendment was, and I didn't realize Giuliani's remarks were in the context of this Amendment.

The Amendment mandates federal funding for abortions (presumably through already-existing medical welfare programs like Medicaid) only in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. This has been on the books for 18 years, and I am aware of no serious effort to change it... by anyone.

In this context, it appears that Giuliani was saying only that he would apply the law as it currently stands and would not seek to overturn it. Which no one would. Strong pro-lifers may want it to be overturned (clarification: I meant "overturned" in the sense of being made more strict, forbidding any and all funding for any abortion no matter what the circumstance), but no one running nationally -- and few running statewide -- will take that position. And even if they did, it would go nowhere.

Emperor of Icecream argues, on the other hand:

Prolifers support the Hyde Amendment. But Giuliani doesn't. He just says that he won't actively work to change it (see the press release his campaign just put out. The Corner has it posted). He's been very careful to leave open the possibility that if a democratic Congress passed a law for federal funding of abortion, he would sign it.

Even Democrats have supported the Hyde Amendment. Giuliani is far enough to the left on this that I don't see how any pro-lifer could support the guy. His position is awful and isntead of fixing it he just keeps flailing around saying ambiguous things. Someone needs to tell him that you can't take a far left position in favor of public funding of abortions and then get out of it with a few ambiguous statements that could be interpreted either way.

I don't buy that he's been "very careful to leave open the possibility" that he may expand funding for abortions. He's trying to avoid contradicting previous positions; he's not trying to run more liberal than he's been in the past. He's trying to run as conservatively as he can without seeming to reverse himself completely.

So I actually see this now as much ado about very little. He's saying he'll support the law as it currently is. Guess what -- so will every serious GOP candidate. I doubt you could get more than a "Well I'd like to take a look at that if I'm President" non-committal response on totally stopping all funding for abortions if you asked any candidate.

Go ahead. Ask Romney. As Thompson. Ask Gingrich. See what they say. If you find someone agitating hard to undo the Hyde Amendment, I'll be very surprised.

Over at the Corner, Giuliani was quoted thus:

What I said yesterday is what I've been saying throughout, I think in the last number of months publicly and privately for quite some time, which is I'm against abortion, I hate it, I wish there never was an abortion and I would council a woman have an adoption instead of an abortion but ultimately I believe an individual right and a woman can make that choice. I also, on public funding or funding of abortion said I would want to see it decided on a state by state basis. And what that means is I would leave the Hyde Amendment in place. It's been the law now, 17, 18 years, it's part of the constitutional balance that I talked about yesterday and the Hyde Amendment leaves the funding issue largely to the states. They have to decide how they're going to do it. And same thing on the issue that you're giving me now, which is I believe that the state should decide. And that's largely my approach not only in the area of abortion but in the area of guns and other things. I think these things are best decided on a state by state basis and would have as limited a federal role as the law requires.

A lot of that's a mish-mash -- or at least I don't get it -- but the key is he seems to be talking about nothing more than simply leaving the status quo as regards the Hyde Amendment intact. Which, again, is pretty much what any serious candidate is going to say.

Allah's arguing with me that using the language "constitutional right" implies Giuiliani takes an expansive view of this right. (Well, that's what I think he was saying; he went away mid-sentence.) I think that's silly. His position is his stated position and we needn't go searching for the penubras and emanations of it looking for "implications."

And, actually, abortion is, currently, a "constitutional right," so calling it such doesn't indicate anything much at all except a willingness to call things what they are. And it will probably stay a constitutional right for at least 20 years.

I don't think anyone's particularly suprised Giuliani isn't a strong conservative on the abortion issue. The question has always been will he be barely conservative enough to be passable. Unless I'm missing something, this gaffe doesn't indicate he's not that -- just conservative enough to be passable.

Again, I really don't see how people can seriously demand that Giuliani -- known to be socially moderate, even liberal -- take a more absolutist position on abortion than geuniune (mostly) social con George W. Bush. That to me is just kinda silly.


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posted by Ace at 05:07 PM

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