Alan Keyes
DNC chair Perez's litmus test threatens country, not just his party
By Alan Keyes
May 2, 2017

Last week the Vermont socialist, Democrat Bernie Sanders, endorsed a reputedly pro-life Democrat running for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. The president of NARAL ProChoice America called the endorsement a betrayal of women. Asked to comment on their apparent dispute, Illinois Democrat U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said:
    Listen, I am committed to women's rights under the law, reproductive rights certainly, and our party is. We have made that part of our platform and position for a long, long time.... We need to be understanding of those who take a different position because of personal conscience. But, as long as they are prepared to back the law, Roe vs. Wade – prepared to back women's rights as we have defined them under the law – then I think they can be part of the party.
Later last week, DNC Chairman Thomas Perez stirred the brewing teapot tempest with his reported remark that "Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman's right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable [italics mine] and should not change city by city or state by state." If, as Mr. Durbin asserts, Roe v. Wade is simply and generally to be enforced as law (rather than implemented as the Supreme Court majority's opinion about how the law applies in a particular case), Chairman Perez is stating what is reasonably obvious.

Beyond being a point both these Democratic leaders have in common, this view of Roe v. Wade is a point they have in common with every American politician, office-holder, or public figure who supports the view that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision is "the law of the land," which must be enforced as such. Many putatively pro-life Republicans take this view. Consider, for example, the following report of an exchange that occurred between Sen. Durbin and recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, during the latter's confirmation hearing:
    In "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia," Gorsuch wrote, "The intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong."

    On day three of Gorsuch's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Durbin demanded he explain how he could square that statement with the legal right to an abortion.

    "As the book explains, the Supreme Court of the United States has held in Roe v. Wade that a fetus is not a person for purposes of the 14th Amendment, and the book explains that," Gorsuch answered.

    "Do you accept that?" Durbin asked.

    "I accept the law of the land, senator, yes," Gorsuch replied.
As the word "person" is used in the Constitution of the United States, all human beings are persons. Frederick Douglass, the once enslaved great advocate of abolition, understood that the fundamental unreason involved in the pro-slavery arguments of many 19th century advocates of black enslavement was that they denied the evident fact that blacks are human beings. But, as Alexis de Tocqueville observed in his famous gloss on American life, the pro-slavery forces at least had some plausible grounds for their bigotry. Blacks were, in outward appearance, so different from whites that this could be cited as proof of their being a different and inferior species.

Today, we condemn this bigotry. Some people, particularly among Democrats claiming to act on behalf of human justice and social equality, make a pretense of loathing racial bigotry so intensely that they cannot tolerate any even indirect vestige of its existence. Yet many of them are the very same people who demand that all Americans be forced by law to aid, abet, and participate in activities that deny the personhood of our posterity in the womb. This they do despite the fact that our empirical science allows us to distinguish the humanity of our offspring even before our eyes behold them, from the very moment, in fact, of their physical conception.

Though they pretend to care for humanity, their denial of humanity in our offspring reveals their rejection of humanity's claims. Unlike the pro-slavery bigots, their contempt does not target this or that racial or ethnic group. It encompasses the very conception of humanity itself. They pretend to reject any standard but that of scientifically proven empirical fact, yet they adamantly disregard empirical facts when it comes to treating human offspring with the same respect we are supposed to accord to all other human beings, scientifically proven to be such.

From the perspective of humanity, this is so obviously self-contradictory and irrational it's hard to see any reasonable motive for it. That is, until we reflect upon the rhetorical mask they use to veil the anti-human implications of their pretense. Donning that mask, they abandon empirical fact as substance of proof, exalting instead a possibility of human existence that stands apart from material observation, so that only its consequences appear in a material way. The fact of choice precisely corresponds to Macbeth's description of his inner intentions, which "must be acted ere they may be scanned."

This makes choice purely a matter of will – will, in no way subject to prior constraint; will, factually proven only after the fact; will, therefore, subject to no constraint but in the potential of its power, which cannot be effectually known until it prevails upon itself, power against power, in a never-ending contest of wills. In that contest, right has no meaning but in the moment of superior power, and justice has no standard but what is made manifest in that momentary power to withstand opposition.

It is, therefore, a world where only the powerful have rights; where whatever they succeed in doing is "justice"; and in which the relatively weak and powerless are undistinguished masses, without importance but as the material in which power freely contends with itself, and all else is slavery. This sounds like the course of human events throughout all ages except, until recently, our own. But if we Americans now embrace it as a nation, we embrace the demise of our existence as a free (i.e., self-governing) people. That depends on a standard of justice beyond willing power, and a source of right impossible but in respect of our Creator, God.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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