- - Saturday, August 13, 2022

After the Kansas abortion referendum, calls for a Republican retreat filled the air — including some from ostensibly conservative voices.

The vote to acknowledge there is no “right to abortion” in the state constitution (put there by judicial fiat) failed overwhelmingly in a Red State. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan cautioned moderation. Republicans should seek a ban on abortion after the 15th week because that’s where a majority of Americans are, she said.

But if you believe an unborn child is a person at conception, how can you countenance aborting it before the 15th week?

If Republicans had looked at opinion polls in 1861, they would never have supported a war against succession and slavery. Sometimes, a party has to have the moral fiber to educate on moral questions, instead of going with the flow.

Rep. Nancy Mace compares pro-life legislation she considers extreme to dystopian fiction. (“‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’ was not supposed to be a road map.”)

Whatever the outcome of the battle over abortion in the states, two things are clear: (1) Republican leaders have never been comfortable with pro-family positions — which they view in isolation. (2) If Republicans retreat on the family, they’ll retreat anywhere. A sure prescription for failure in November is the perception that the GOP is a party of wimps.

Besides being a denial of the most fundamental human right, abortion is an assault on the family. If children are optional/disposable, that diminishes their importance. There’s a huge difference between children as a gift from God and a lifestyle choice.

Families do society’s vital work, like assuring the continuity of humanity. Throughout history, not companionship or tax advantages but procreation has validated the family.

Unsurprisingly, progressives who favor abortion without limits are also anti-family. Abortion is the ultimate fail-safe for extramarital sex (a way to avoid the consequences of being irresponsible), which undermines the family. Of women who have abortions, 96% are single.

In a sense, every issue is a family issue.

It’s long been recognized that two-parent families are the best environment for raising children. The Heritage Foundation notes that 93% of teen suicides, 71% of high school dropouts, 85% of young prison inmates and 75% of teens in rehab are the product of single-parent families, of which there is a growing number.

You can’t have a strong economy without strong families. Habits like diligence, perseverance and honesty are learned in the family. That’s why as the family has declined, so too has a work ethic among the young.

Capitalism requires deferred consumption — putting off immediate gratification for long-term goals, like a family home and educating children. Singleness is about the satisfaction of whims. Whatever you want, you can have right now. You’re responsible for yourself and no one else.

More than patriotism, men and women join the military to safeguard their families. Although there are no surveys on the subject, I’d hazard to guess that the 18- and 19-year-olds in a landing craft heading for the beach on D-Day were thinking about their mothers, wives and sweethearts more than the Pledge of Allegiance.

The connection between crime and family breakdown is too obvious to require much elaboration. Prisons, homeless shelters and halfway houses are filled with the graduates of malfunctioning families.

In the family there is safety. To paraphrase a question posed by commentator Dennis Prager, if you were in a bad section of town on a dark night, would you be relieved to learn that the tough-looking young men walking toward you were married with children?

The products of functional family life do not kick and stomp elderly Asian women in the streets or set homeless men on fire. They don’t enter school buildings and shoot 19 children and two teachers. They do not commit mass murder by distributing fentanyl.

We learn compassion and caring not from friends, or Hollywood and the mainstream media, and certainly not from public education, but from the family, if we learn them at all.

Thus, the major threat to the American way of life isn’t inflation or the war on fossil fuels or Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adventurism or Chinese expansionism, the surge in a crime or even open borders — as important as they all are — but the decline of marriage, the family and respect for life.

This is what Republicans must explain to voters, over and over again, if need be, between now and Nov. 8.

• Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer and syndicated columnist.

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