If the 2020 presidential campaign has done nothing else, it’s solidified the Democratic Party’s bonafides when it comes to abortion. Gone are the days when candidates would argue over the morality of abortion; nowadays, it’s all about justifications, and that’s exactly where former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg has decided to hang his proverbial hat.
Several times on the campaign trail, Buttigieg, who has cast himself as the arbiter of moral truth in the age of Trump, has claimed the morality of a single issue — abortion — is “unknowable.”
During a recent interview with The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, the 2020 Democratic candidate argued, just as he did in April of last year, that the issue of abortion is somehow outside the realm of things comprehendible by the human mind.
Asked by Gerson whether the protection of an unborn life could constitute a human rights issue, the 37-year-old candidate and combat veteran replied, “To say whose rights are involved is to assume an answer. And it’s because the answer is, in a certain sense, unknowable that the American majority believes it is best left to those facing the decision.”
Buttigieg, an Episcopalian, sidestepped the same question when he appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last spring, telling co-host Willie Geist that abortion — even late in pregnancy — is a “personal decision,” suggesting those in the pro-life camp who question the rightness of abortion are being “misleading” because the morality of the issue is, in his mind, “unknowable.”
Conservative writer Ericka Andersen said Buttigieg’s answer seems to suggest, since abortion’s morality is apparently “unknowable,” politicians are choosing to “err on the side of murder, I guess.”
The fact Buttigieg has used this kind of verbiage when it comes to abortion says something about him and his political party.
The Democratic Party has become so unflinching on the issue of abortion, even candidates like Buttigieg, who is solidly progressive in every way, can’t stray from groupthink on abortion. After all, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said in 2017 that “every Democrat” needs to support access to abortion, adding the issue is “not negotiable,” essentially establishing a litmus test for the party.
As for Buttigieg, he falls into one of two categories: he either knows the truth about abortion and where it falls on the moral spectrum and chooses not to take a stand because he doesn’t want to risk taking flack from the Democratic Party (in his defense, it would be political suicide), or he hasn’t spent any time thinking about how his theology as a Christian should apply to the issue of abortion.
Either way, Buttigieg’s lily-livered stance on abortion is ironic and sad. We should expect — and demand — more from our potential leaders.