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Ted Kennedy, Pro-Lifer

Another History Lesson

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An observant reader notes that my description yesterday of Ted Kennedy’s support for legal abortion as “lifelong” is an overstatement. In fact, early in his public career, even Ted Kennedy had not yet embraced the casual cruelty of his party towards the defenseless unborn; indeed, Kennedy’s rhetoric in those early days, displays genuine compassion for the defenseless unborn. Given Kennedy’s centrality to Democratic strategy on this issue – he was the leader of the fight against the Bork nomination – it’s interesting to look back. Here’s Kennedy during his 1970 campaign for a second full term in the Senate:

Spaulding was what today would be called “pro-choice,” and Kennedy, at that time, was passionately opposed to abortion. So when the subject came up, the senator was in full voice. He screamed, “Don’t tell me there isn’t enough love in the world to care for all the unwanted babies.” He mentioned that adoption agencies had waiting lists.

In 1971, Kennedy put his pro-life convictions in writing to a correspondent on Long Island:

Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old….Once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely by desire….I also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society’s problems…When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared enough about human beings enough to…fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.

Sadly, Kennedy’s estimate of how much love there was in the world, and how much his generation should care about fellow human beings, dwindled with the years – I leave to the reader to speculate on his motivations in the regard, but two of the groups most ardently in favor of legal abortion (not to suggest that they are mutually exclusive) are Democratic presidential candidates and men who have a lot of sex with women not their wives and don’t especially like to pay the consequences. What is clear, however, is that the many years Kennedy spent trying to convince Americans that the pro-life movement was somehow extremist and anti-woman were really a renunciation of his own heart. Because once upon a time, Ted Kennedy cared about the unborn.

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