How less government works

Among the principles held most dear by political conservatives, less government would be at or near the top of the list, along with lower taxes, less regulation and the belief that private business can best address the needs of the population in a free market. Conservatives believe that government should spend less, tax less and stay out of the way of private lives and private business.

How can this be reconciled with the national preoccupation with a woman’s right to choose abortion? This has fascinated me for several decades.

Britannica defines abortion as “the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it has reached the stage of viability.” Those last eight words can be important in any political discussion regarding abortion.

Whether to choose abortion has always seemed a highly personal matter to me. How did a woman’s very personal decision become anyone’s business but her own? The question swam into my consciousness in the early 1970s, about the time an ambitious 38-year old evangelist named Jerry Falwell founded Lynchburg Bible College (later to be named Liberty University) in his Virginia hometown. Rev. Falwell, who died in 2007, ignited controversy throughout his career, condemning abortion, gay rights, feminism, and a variety of what he considered signs of a godless, sinful society. He blamed abortionists, homosexuals, feminists and others for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and declared that AIDS is a divine punishment for homosexuality.

He hated abortion. Government, Falwell argued, should control a woman’s choice concerning abortion. This was to become a prominent exception to conservatism’s “less government” mantra.

Rev. Falwell was politically active, as we know. He was on television a lot, and In 1979 he founded the Moral Majority movement, which was credited with playing an important role in electing Ronald Reagan president the following year.

Falwell has gone on to his reward (or punishment, as the case may be), but his strong beliefs and activities continue to affect our world. It’s a mistake to attribute the anti-abortion juggernaut to him alone, but we find little Falwells everywhere: Political and religious conservatives now populate our state houses, city halls and Congress, laboring frantically to control what should be the most private decision a woman makes about her own body.

This we suppose, is how less government works.

One thought on “How less government works

  1. That the GOP made a solid base on this matter (and the religious-ride radicalized their membership on the subject…it wasn’t ALWAYS an issue in religious circles) is, along with their Southern Strategy, nothing they should be proud of. For decades they cynically leveraged these issues to gain electoral victories, only to kind of ignore them legislatively once in office and simply pursue their usual interests of tax cutting, etc. That time has passed, and the establishment GOP is reaping the whirlwind nows There is NO room in the GOP for any pro-choice stance or support for civil rights. What a mess they’ve made for all of us.


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