Similar counsel was given to Michael Corleone from his father in the Godfather saga. It turned out to be very good advice. It looks like Arlen Specter is going to get the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is not as bad as it seems. Specter got the behind-closed-door message that his pro-abortion obstructionist philosophy would not be tolerated.

Having a bad guy as chairman can have a positive reverse effect. During Ronald Reagan’s first administration, the pro-life community pushed hard to have Dr. C. Everett Koop as the nation’s Surgeon General. Koop had been surgeon-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and professor of pediatric surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. He and his team of surgeons became famous in 1974 when they successfully separated Siamese twin baby girls. His medical credentials were impeccable.

Koop gained wider notoriety when he traveled the country with Francis Schaeffer promoting the film and book series Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Before this, Koop had written a hard hitting book on the horrors of abortion and infanticide–The Right to Live; The Right to Die (1976). He seemed to be the perfect candidate for the position. But because of his pro-life credentials, he went through a rough confirmation hearing. “The nomination was held up for more than eight months. Only after Dr. Koop promised to abandon the antiabortion circuit and to refrain from using the surgeon general’s office as a pulpit for his right-to-life beliefs did the Senate finally vote its approval."[1]

Under questioning, Koop admitted that as Surgeon General he would recommend abortion as one way of dealing with the unborn children of mothers with AIDS. By the spring of 1987, Koop was self-consciously in retreat from his earlier Christian position. With respect to abortion, he commented: “I’ve written all that I have to write on that issue. There are other, bigger things that I should turn my attention to as surgeon general: Where this country is and where it’s going in health care."[2]

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In 1986 and 1987, Koop officially called for sex education on AIDS in the public schools as early as kindergarten and for public school instruction on how to use condoms. Homosexuality had become a politically protected lifestyle. “I am the surgeon general of the heterosexuals and the homosexuals, of the young and the old, of the moral and the immoral, the married and the unmarried. I don’t have the luxury of deciding which side I want to be on."[3]

As Surgeon General, Koop was a big disappointment. The confirmation process neutered him philosophically. He gave away the pro-life store in order to gain confirmation. A similar thing happened to John Ashcroft. The anti-abortion opposition had followed Don Corleone’s advice. When Specter is finally given the chairmanship, don’t recoil in disgust and defeatism. We have him just where we want him. Instead of being behind the scenes, Specter will be out front where we can keep an eye on him.


[1] Quoted in Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), 199. [2] Gary North, Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1996), 1004-6. [3] Quoted in North, Political Polytheism, 201.