(It can also be inferred that Kevin Fischer has a distaste for Pro-Life Wisconsin types; on yesterday's show he referred to people who objected to abortion-for-rape-and-incest-victims as "zealots," a term which has ALWAYS been a slur. See below for the possible rationale.)
Anyhoo, NRLC has a problem, and it's called "the slippery slope." From What's Wrong With the World:
Some of you may be old enough to remember that a ban on federal funding for research using tissue taken from aborted fetuses was a big deal in the Reagan and Bush, Sr., administrations. Then came William Jefferson Clinton and, with the cooperation of Congress, that ban on federal funding was lifted in 1993. The NIH could fund research using tissue from aborted children...
...The National Right to Life Committee reported faithfully on this subject and consistently opposed such funding, contending that it normalized abortion and made women think that perhaps they could "do some good" by having their child killed.
...In the same year,  we find an article called, unambiguously, "Fetal Tissue Harvesting: An Ethical Free-fall," in which ethical arguments for and against fetal tissue use are expressly discussed and the pro-life position made clear
And then, something changed. My careful search of the NRLC archives indices from 2001 on has been unable to turn up a single further article in which such statements were made
What happened, of course, was a Presidential primary and election.
...from 2001 on, while the ethical disapproval is implicit in NRLC's very desire to point out that such research is failing to provide treatments, never again--that I can find--after 2000 do we find an express discussion of the ethical issue or an express statement of the usual pro-life arguments against it, nor do we find any discussion of federal funding
...NRLC whipped its members soundly into line to vote for George W. Bush. ...hesitations to do so arose from a number of sources, including Bush's support for legal abortion in cases of rape and incest and also his curious hesitation to talk about the issue at all.
Hmmmmm. "Rape and incest." How interesting!!
One of their reasons in several articles for their urgency was the possibility that if Bush were not supported in the Republican primary, the nomination might be won by John McCain.
Then, in 2002, word appeared briefly on the Internet: Bush's NIH had funded research using stem cells derived from aborted fetuses. Rather to everyone's surprise, it turned out that Bush's famous Aug. 9, 2001 "line in the sand" applied only to stem cells derived from unimplanted embryos, not to stem cells derived from aborted fetuses. There was no limit on federal funding for those stem cells to children killed prior to Aug. 9, 2001.
NRLC came out in full defense mode. Their defense was two-pronged. First, they argued that the Bush NIH's "hands were tied" by the 1993 legislation permitting federal funding for aborted fetal tissue research. More importantly, and to head off the obvious question ("Then why doesn't Bush, and why don't you, try to get that legislation changed?"), they implied that Bush was right not simply to fund the research as (they said) required by law but to do nothing to urge that the state of the law be changed. The new worry was...wait for it...embryonic stem-cell research. That was the new focus, and that was where the energy should go, what with the possibility of "embryo farms" and what-not. Evidently, vocal and active opposition to federal funding for fetal tissue research was just soooo nineties
There will never again be a presidential candidate who will be asked by the major U.S. pro-life organization to make it clear in his campaign that he opposes the use of federal funds for fetal tissue research. The organization changed its priorities.
And where is NRLC today on the issue?
So, what about embryonic stem-cell research? That, after all, was Douglas Johnson's urgent reason for ditching the issue of fetal tissue research. That was the new thing, the dangerous thing, the thing we had to concentrate on. And now, NRLC eagerly supports a candidate who has always openly and vocally supported federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research
NRLC should be ashamed of itself, but then, with the Rockefeller Republican "rape and incest" endorsement of the 1970's, this is hardly a surprise.
Either you are pro-life, or not. Ain't no middle ground--for the simple reason that there is no "middle" between life and death.
And if being pro-life means that Kevin calls me a "zealot", or the Archbishop of Milwaukee likes the other guys, so be it.
K. Fischer insists, strenuously, that he did NOT use the term "zealot" during his program, and he listened to the podcast to make certain of that. Further, he contends that this blog-entry mis-characterizes his position on the question of rape/incest. It's likely that Kevin will be writing his own entry on the program and the questions he raised.