Most of us don’t remember that Arlen Specter was considering a run for the presidency in 1995.[1] Specter ran for president because he didn’t like the “exclusionary attitudes” of Christian conservatives, especially their pro-life agenda. He believed then, like he believes now, that the Republican Party is “so captive to the demands of the intolerant right that we end up re-electing a president on the incompetent left.” Specter says he agrees with former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater: “We need to keep government out of our pocketbooks, off our backs and out of our bedrooms.”[2] Goldwater blasted Christian activism and took a liberal line on abortion and homosexuality. One of his grandsons chose the homosexual lifestyle.

Following the logic of Goldwater and Specter, does this mean that they would call for the abolition of all taxation? Government is in our pocketbooks and will always be in our pocketbooks because some forms of taxation are legitimate.

What does Specter mean by keeping government “off our backs”? Is he calling for the abolition of the police powers of the State? Civil governments have jurisdictional authority to keep the peace, punish lawbreakers, and adjudicate criminal cases. What Specter is really calling for is less government interference and lower taxes, not the elimination of governmental powers and all taxing authority.

If civil government has a limited but legitimate role to levy and collect taxes and enact and enforce laws, then why is Specter an absolutist when it comes to the issue of abortion? Certainly some regulation is called for when it comes to his very liberal views on abortion just as some taxation and government regulation are called for in the first two cases.

What Specter and his pro-abortion buddies don’t understand is that anti-abortion advocates believe that abortion kills a preborn baby. Since a pre-born baby is a human being, given pro-life assumptions, it is not unreasonable to conclude that civil government should not allow the procedure and call it a fundamental right of “privacy.” It’s this argument that abortionists do not want to hear and will never acknowledge. To cover up the real nature of abortion, they describe their ideology as being “pro-choice.” The question remains: What are they choosing to do? They are choosing to kill preborn babies. Describe abortion this way, and the abortion argument is over.

One last point needs to be made: abortions—killing preborn babies—do not take place in bedrooms; they occur in government-regulated medical facilities. Certainly civil government has the right and duty to stop the premeditated destruction of human life even if it takes place in bedrooms. Most crimes are committed behind closed doors. Does this mean that civil government has no jurisdiction? What if a man beats his wife in the bedroom? What if a young girl is raped in the bedroom? Are these acts outside the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate because they take place privately?

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In ten years, the views of Arlen Specter have been discredited and rejected. He may chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, but his ultra-liberal and anti-life views no longer prevail. There’s a lesson here for those who gave up on politics: Persistence and faithfulness win in the end.


[1] Steve Goldstein, “Specter enters White House race,” Atlanta Constitution (March 31, 1995), A7. [2] Richard Benedetto, “Testing presidential waters, Specter blasts right,” USA Today (November 15, 1994), 3A.