Does Sharron Angle Believe What She Says About Abortion?

July 9, 2010

Yesterday on this blog we learned about the abortion views of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who is attempting to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada. Angle has stated that abortion is always wrong, even in the case of rape and incest, and suggested that pregnancies caused by rape or incest give women a chance to make lemonade from lemons. While most response to that post relayed disgust with Angle’s statements, some off-the-Web reaction posited that Angle doesn’t really believe what she’s saying, but instead is just using strong rhetoric to win an election.

This argument was seemingly bolstered by Angle’s reaction to the legal implications of her argument on Face to Face with Jon Ralston :

Ralston : You want government to go and tell a 13-year-old child who’s been raped by her father she has to have that baby?

Angle : I didn’t say that. I always say that I value life.

Angle even said she believes ideally that government should stay out of the issue of abortion. However, since the government decided to insert its control after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, she said, “I’m just defending my position.” Austin Cline of the About.com Guide to Atheism has already handled the incoherence of Angle’s political position here.

Let’s return to the argument that Angle doesn’t really mean what she’s saying, which would preempt any discussion of her incoherence (of course she’s incoherent, she just saying whatever she can to win!). There are four problems with that argument. First, Angle’s abortion views do not exactly strike one as odd considering the rest of her political position sheet , or some of her recent comments. Second, Nevada is not exactly full of pro-lifers. Indeed, Sen. Reid has moderated his abortion views because of polling data that has found, for instance, that 64 percent of Nevada residents identify as “pro-choice.” Third, Angle might not really believe what she’s saying, and might be merely using it to win an election — but that doesn’t make Angle look any better. We ought to be disgusted with someone who panders politically with such terribly offensive rhetoric.

Lastly — and getting to perhaps the most reasonable conclusion here — the argument ignores the cold, hard fact that politicians do not like going on record with definitive statements, especially those that would confirm the legal implication of her ideas. Surely Angle realizes the legal implications of her ideas; she has apparently stated in the past that she wants to change current abortion law in Nevada (or is that just pandering?). Yet Angle handled her public exchange on the matter eerily similar to the way Sarah Palin once handled the same situation. Katie Couric once asked Palin, “if a 15-year-old is raped by her father, you believe it should be illegal for her to get an abortion. Why?” Palin responded that “personally, I would counsel a person to choose life,” and completely ignored the question at hand (though she did say she wouldn’t want to jail women who get abortions; how considerate!). And why? Because while certain abortion rhetoric may win over some voters, confirming on audio, video, or paper, that women should be legally barred from abortions that stem from rape or incest, or which would save their lives, would look even worse.