Debates

Planned Parenthood Controversy Pushes Gay Marriage Off the GOP's Agenda

Abortion anger dominates the culture war fight at debate.

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Guys, gay marriage stock art is starting to get seriously weird.
Credit: Ocusfocus | Dreamstime.com

Some of the loudest applause during the debate at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland last night came when Ohio Gov. John Kasich was asked how he would explain his opposition to same-sex marriage to a gay son or daughter.

He decided to fold altogether. He responded that the Supreme Court had ruled on the matter, and he will accept it. He continued that he would "love and accept" a gay child "because that's what we're taught when we have faith." His support for backing off gay marriage opposition got him huge cheers in an audience specifically there to watch Republicans debate over who would make the best president.

There was very little said about gay and lesbian issues during the debates last night. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, of course, got in his outrage at the Supreme Court ruling during the earlier debate, comparing it to the Dred Scott decision in insisting that the fight was not over. But for the 10 candidates with the best polling numbers, it pretty much appears to be over. Sen. Rand Paul repeated his talking point that he didn't want to register either his marriage or his gun in Washington and reassured a woman who asked a question via Facebook that he wanted to make sure people's religious freedoms to speak out and act in opposition to gay marriage weren't trampled on. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee ranted about allowing transgender troops to serve in the military, saying that the "purpose of the military is to kill people and break things," as though those are two tasks transgender people are unable to perform.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Scott Walker (and some other candidates) have strongly supported constitutional amendments to overrule the Supreme Court and allow individual states to decide whether to recognize same-sex marriages. Cruz was even willing to take the lead in introducing a resolution. But when presented opportunities to talk about marriage, it didn't come up. Why is that?

Blame (or credit—depending how you feel about it) Planned Parenthood. Given a priority list of social issue/culture war battlefields, abortion now trumps gay issues. The controversies over how Planned Parenthood treats fetal tissue and whether it's breaking the law has put the abortion debate back front and center for now, and when questions included references to both marriage and abortion, candidates zoomed in on abortion. Candidates talked about defunding Planned Parenthood. Cruz even promised to send the Department of Justice after them.

Obviously, this doesn't mean that Cruz, Walker, Huckabee, or anybody else has softened on gay marriage. But given the number of issues to discuss and the number of candidates in the field, there needed to be a limit of culture war battles to wage, and clearly everybody decided abortion was the way to go. There are actually policies to debate (whether to fund Planned Parenthood) that indicate what these candidates might do as president. A constitutional amendment on gay marriage recognition is simply not going to happen. I suspect the religious freedom question Paul tackled will come up again (there are 11 more GOP debates!) because it represents an unresolved policy matter. Gay marriage itself, not so much.

NEXT: Court of appeals faults trial judge for saying witness is 'completely full of it' and 'full of it up to your eyeballs'

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  1. I still don’t understand why abortion is such a big issue. It’s not like they can overturn Roe v Wade.

    1. Look,brith control is FREE NOW.Except for rape and incest,why is it needed,huh,huh,FREE

    2. True, but how many people in the Republican base actually realize this? I’m sure they’d love it if the next President issued an executive order overturning Roe v. Wade.

      1. so far it’s worked for Obama

    3. It’s staying relevant due to advances in medicine. The earlier a baby can survive outside its mother the earlier people grow uncomfortable saying it doesn’t have human rights. Also advances in medicine are allowing people to see exactly how developed the fetus is at every stage. As all the parents who see sonograms seem to attest we get attached when we can see the baby.

      Social progress has been tending towards granting rights to more things and people not less. Just look at our rules against animal abuse. People always liked dogs, but the rules we have today would have been unheard of a hundred years ago. This puts abortion on the wrong side of social movements in general. We are anthropomorphizing more as time goes on not less.

      What’s going to be really fun is when artificial wombs become a practical alternative to abortion. I don’t think a lot of feminists are going to be happy getting stuck with the same lack of reproductive rights as men.

      1. While you make some interesting and valid points, I still don’t see Roe v Wade being overturned. At least not for a generation or two.

        1. These things due tend to come out of nowhere, and with the left running out of mass appeal social movements, I wouldn’t be surprised by a sudden shift in popular opinion (or a sudden shift in what people are willing to say publicly).

        2. Here’s the trick, though:

          Roe doesn’t protect abortions after viability. That’s mostly what the current round of anti-abortion laws are about: codifying a more current definition of viability. Some of them may be overreaching (for now, I think 20 weeks is a little early).

          Roe can stay on the books, and eventually abortions could be outlawed after a pretty early point. Theoretically even after conception, if we ever get to the point where a fertilized egg can be brought to term outside of a mother.

          1. That makes sense. Thanks.

            1. You have to remember, to, that Planned Parenthood v. Casey is the most current SCOTUS precedent regarding abortion, and that case, while affirming the Court’s view that a woman has a right to abort before viability, also explicitly said that States could regulate the practice based on the States’ interest in life.*

              *I’m paraphrasing what I remember about the case, so someone may feel free to correct me.

          2. Yes, 20 weeks sounds way early to me. From what I have read, premies that early tend to have all sorts of disabilities, mentally as well as health problems. if they even live.
            28 weeks sounds more reasonable.

            1. So your litmus test for people’s rights is whether they may or may not have disabilities?

              1. We are all friends here. Gotchas don’t convince anyone. There is no need to twist Hazel’s words for cheap points.

                1. That’s Suicidy’s job.

            2. 28 weeks sounds more reasonable.

              From my (non-medical) understanding, 28 weeks is where it was at 15 or 20 years ago. I believe that they have pretty good and consistent success at 24 weeks these days.

      2. What’s going to be really fun is when artificial wombs become a practical alternative to abortion.

        All that will do is demonstrate the absurdity of the viability criterion. Why? Because if you can grow a fertilized egg in an artificial womb, you can grow a human clone derive from a stem cell in an artificial womb. If you criminalize abortion of fertilized eggs, then you end up having to criminalize spitting and pissing.

        Viability is arguably a necessary condition for prohibitions against abortion, but it is not sufficient.

    4. Yes, they can, technically. It is legally possible to do so. It might take a Constisuional Amendment, but they could do it. A bunch of SCOTUS decisions got overturned by the Civil War, too.

      And while the pplitical class as a whole probably has nomsuch difficult belief,mat least some of the Pro-Life people believe that Abortion is infanticide. Tha’s not an issue you let go of just because you probably aren’t going to win.

      I don’t happen to agree with them, but dismissing the deep revusion that some people feel about abortion is a serious tactical mistake.

  2. ENB is going to be devastated.

  3. You know what’s not EVEN a debate? Voting for me for president in 2016?

    Why?

    Almanian for President – 2016
    I Probably Won’t Make It Wany Worse

    that’s why…

    1. It is a debate. Know why? Because…

      some guy for President – 2016
      You won’t even know I’m there.

      that’s why

      1. That’s debatable.

  4. Makes sense. At least with abortion you can make a rational argument as to why it is wrong, even evil, and should be illegal or heavily regulated. (Other rational arguments can be made that it is not evil and should not be regulated.) But with gay marriage there’s no rational argument to be made against allowing gay marriage. That particular piece of the culture war is headed to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

  5. Please cut off PP,and solar,wind,farmers,EXIM bank,departments of energy,education,EPA,H&H services, and end the gas tax and let the states set their own so they an end the department of transportation.That’s a good start. Then let’s dig in to the DOD,CIA AND NSA and keep what is prudent.Then S.S. and Medicare fixes.No one would vote for me,ever.I may have miised some things too.

    1. All this – AND MOAR – can be yours! Simply vote for

      Almanian for President – 2016
      I Probably Won’t Make It Any Worse

      1. You have my vote,but.I want to be vice president,I’ll just hang out and drink beer.Just call me when someone dies and I need to show up

  6. Mike Huckabee ranted about allowing transgender troops to serve in the military, saying that the “purpose of the military is to kill people and break things,” as though those are two tasks transgender people are unable to perform.

    Not sure that was his point. I believe it was, “If the mission of the military isn’t served by ‘A’, then let’s not do ‘A’.”

    Now, the question I have to the reader is this, does it serve the mission of the military to allow [person A] “serve” it? Do the Utilitarian calculation and then get back to me.

    I’ve already done the highly-subjective, counterfactual math and have come to the conclusion that no, it doesn’t.

    (FYI, I actually have military experience and closely studied the minds of those who served with me. This one would not go that well. It would likely dissuade more people from joining than it would encourage. Also, I’m an anarchist so I’m no fan of a governmental military anyway. Food for thought.)

    1. I think the point he was trying to make was that the military is not a petri dish for social experimentation. If transgender troops hinder the purpose of the military, then we shouldn’t have them. If they advance it, then we should.

      But having transgender troops should not be an end in itself.

      1. As far as I can tell, the purpose of the US military is to defend the US against outside attacks. That’s a dirty and unpleasant business that every American may have to partake in should the need arise. I don’t see how the nature of people’s sex organs has anything to do with it.

        The reason Huckabee and others have a problem with “weird” people in the military is that he misunderstands the purpose of the US military and wants to maintain the fiction that that organization should be anything other than a last resort for the defense of the US.

  7. You can tell how desperate the GOP is to talk about anything other than gay marriage by their recent obsessive focus on abortion and sex trafficking.

  8. The GOP is going to win this culture war someday.

    1. But if they win, how will they get people to vote for them?

      Seriously…

  9. A constitutional amendment on gay marriage recognition is simply not going to happen.

    Nor is one required.

    Blame (or credit?depending how you feel about it) Planned Parenthood.

    I blame the right-wing conspiracy which works hand-in-hand with the patriarchy to keep women oppressed and living only as walking incubators!

    1. I blame the right-wing conspiracy which works hand-in-hand with the patriarchy to keep women oppressed and living only as walking incubators!

      #WarOnWomen #StandWithPP #SmashBabySkullsTheOpposition

  10. Sen. Rand Paul repeated his talking point that he didn’t want to register either his marriage or his gun in Washington and reassured a woman who asked a question via Facebook that he wanted to make sure people’s religious freedoms to speak out and act in opposition to gay marriage weren’t trampled on.

    That’s just too brutalist an answer, not enough for beltwarian libwaps. He should be shunned and ostracized!

  11. Well, that’s a relief. I was hoping that our culture wars — or whatever the F we want to call them — wouldn’t be different to somebody who was asleep for a couple decades.

  12. I am not really sure how wanting to stop federal funding to an organization that is killing and parting out children is much of a KULTURE WAR issue. It is not like the GOP wants Planned Parenthood criminalized.

    And since when is wanting to cut some group off the federal tit a bad thing? And yeah, people are pissed about gay marriage but so what? They also would like the issue to go away. Of course it won’t because the next issue is going to be forcing everyone to conform and recognize gay marriages. But remember it is the GOP who are the culture warriors not the Democrats who never seem to be satisfied with victory and forever move on to new culture wars once they win on one.

    1. I am not really sure how wanting to stop federal funding to an organization that is killing and parting out children is much of a KULTURE WAR issue.

      Define “children.”

      1. Sure. Living things with human DNA who have not reached adulthood.

        1. Then with your definition of “children” the original statement isn’t exact. Planned Parenthood, and other organizations and doctors, do not kill and part out infants, toddlers, grade-schoolers, and teenagers. They kill and part out “children” — zygotes, embryos, and fetuses — up to around twenty-six weeks gestation in the womb.

          Remember how people referred to Trayvon Martin as a “child” because he was 17 years old and were legally correct?

          Regardless, I support not funding Planned Parenthood with govt. money.

          1. They kill and part out “children” — zygotes, embryos, and fetuses — up to around twenty-six weeks gestation in the womb.

            I think that was what John was referring to. You actually both agree, just not in the way you want to.

            If you want to follow NAP, you must define who you must not aggress against. John went with the objective and timeless “live human beings”. That’s hard to nitpick.

            1. The standard of “live human beings” is not as clear as you think. “Live human beings” would include people who have no brain and are kept alive by machines to have a heartbeat and respiration. If an adult lost his brain completely and was kept alive by machines, I don’t think there is any problem with pulling the plug unless stipulated otherwise. But according to your standard, that person is alive and has human DNA so nobody should be allowed to pull the plug if the individual’s financial resources can pay a willing hospital. The person would have to be connected until their financial resources were all spent.

              What you’re both missing is the importance of the brain. The brain (specifically the cerebral cortex for human cognition) is what’s important–not a heartbeat or respirating or having spinal reflexes as animals do. Having a cerebral cortex and not being brain dead is a logical standard. At whatever point fetuses have developed and linked up a cerebral cortex seems fine to draw the line. Carl Sagan wrote it was around 30 weeks or so. If that’s incorrect I’m open to it being a different number. Just know there are people who peddle falsified information about a 40-day mark.

              Sure an embryo or early stage fetus would likely develop a cerebral cortex, but if it doesn’t have one at the moment, it’s not losing anything it has just like sperm don’t lose anything by not being combined with an egg.

              g2g but there’s something OT I wanna discuss later (tonight).

              1. The brain (specifically the cerebral cortex for human cognition) is what’s important–not a heartbeat or respirating or having spinal reflexes as animals do. Having a cerebral cortex and not being brain dead is a logical standard.

                Doesn’t the first rudiments of a cerebral cortex begin forming at like 5 or 6 weeks?

                From Wikipedia:

                Gestational age: 6 weeks and 0 days until 6 weeks and 6 days old. 43?49 days from last menstruation.

                The brain divides into 5 vesicles, including the early telencephalon. (The telencephalon refers to the embryonic structure from which the mature cerebrum develops)

                IOW, you have about 10 days from your first missed period before the cerebrum (including the cerebral cortex) is noticeably developed.

                1. IOW, you have about 10 days from your first missed period before the cerebrum (including the cerebral cortex) is noticeably developed.

                  There are cells there, but they aren’t functioning as a brain yet.

                  We have a definition of human death based on an active EEG. When we apply that to the developing fetus, the fetus does not have a functioning brain until at least week 25.

              2. “Live human beings” would include people who have no brain and are kept alive by machines to have a heartbeat and respiration.

                Brain dead? Really? That’s where you’re going with that?

                I can, and so can others, likely John, show the difference between “unborn” and brain dead.

                Having a cerebral cortex and not being brain dead is a logical standard.

                Perhaps, but the brain dead human will remain so ad nauseam. The one who does not yet have brain material will almost certainly gain it if you don’t kill it. That’s a massive difference. Like the man put into a medically induced coma, it would be hard for that man to prove they have rights, but we all know he does. This is similar (an imperfect comparison, for sure).

                Sure an embryo or early stage fetus would likely develop a cerebral cortex, but if it doesn’t have one at the moment, it’s not losing anything…

                Sure a child would likely go through puberty, but if it hasn’t gone through it at the moment, it’s not losing anything by being sterilized.

                You can kill that which cannot yet feel or think.

                just like sperm don’t lose anything by not being combined with an egg

                Not human. Not even a full being, only small parts. A hand has no rights, neither does a tumor.

                I have to say, your method of determining life is more objective than most who want abortion.

                1. Perhaps, but the brain dead human will remain so ad nauseam. The one who does not yet have brain material will almost certainly gain it if you don’t kill it.

                  To add to this, when somebody is in a vegetative state/coma, you don’t just pull the plug. There’s a procedure that determines whether this is a temporary issue or whether this is persistent. If there is relatively low risk of the coma lasting forever, it would be inhumane to pull the plug on the person. The vast majority of fetuses (fetii??) are going to “come out of it” and develop higher level brain activity within weeks.

                  “Contrary to prior assumptions, 10% to 24% of patients in PVS can regain consciousness, sometimes years after the event, but only with marked functional impairment.”

                  1. 10% to 24% of patients in PVS can regain consciousness, sometimes years after the event, but only with marked functional impairment.

                    PVS isn’t the same as EEG-based brain death.

                    If there is relatively low risk of the coma lasting forever, it would be inhumane to pull the plug on the person

                    With the level of brain damage that most people in a PVS are likely to experience even if they regain some level of consciousness, the humane thing to do is to let nature take its course.

                    The vast majority of fetuses (fetii??) are going to “come out of it” and develop higher level brain activity within weeks.

                    Yes, but until they do, they have never actually existed as a person. So, if you terminate the pregnancy, before then, you are not killing a person.

                2. Sorry ace. I wanted to have a discussion with you about a particular thing related to Paul, faith, etc. but I don’t think I have the time over the next couple of days. Maybe some other time.

        2. I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. The correct definition is that a “child” is a living human organism between birth and puberty. The stages of human development before birth are called, in order, “zygote”, “embryo”, and “fetus”.

          “Living things with human DNA who [sic] have not reached adulthood” includes any stem cell in your body, which, given the right environment, could reach adulthood.

          1. Good comments, Win Bear.

    2. But remember it is the GOP who are the culture warriors not the Democrats who never seem to be satisfied with victory and forever move on to new culture wars once they win on one.

      Progressives: people who can’t handle when someone says “yes” to them.

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  15. why i can’t.

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