Former Sen. Rick Santorum is receiving heat for the supposed gaffe of wondering why President Obama didn't support an antiabortion position. The quote: "I find it almost remarkable for a -- for a -- for a black man to say, 'No, we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.' "
Santorum has said a lot of offensive things -- remember his "man on dog" comment in connection with gay marriage? -- but citing Obama's race is just an ad hominem variation on the position of some opposed to abortion that unborn children/fetuses are the new slaves and that Roe. Wade is the new Dred Scott decision. If you really believe that, you might wonder why an African American president, who would be particularly sensitive to the outrage of slavery, wouldn't accept the argument.
The interesting thing about Santorum's comments is that he apparently believes believes fetuses are persons under the 14th Amendment. He lamented in an interview with Greta Van Susteren that "what the court has decided -- you know this, Greta -- is that even though it's human life, it's not a person under the 14th Amendment, and therefore is not entitled to constitutional protection."
The idea that a fetus is a person under the Constitution is a fairly mind-boggling notion even if you're against abortion. (Would fetuses be counted in the census for purposes of congressional representation? How could fetuses possess property that couldn't be taken without due process of law?)
Santorum's position distinguishes him from other critics of Roe vs. Wade (think of Justice Antonin Scalia) who argue that the Constitution says nothing about abortion one way or the other. It's a cleavage in the antiabortion movement that isn't discussed very often.
-- Michael McGough
Photo: Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum made his eighth trip to the Palmetto State to attend the anti-abortion march in Columbia, South Carolina, Saturday, January 15, 2011. Santorum was the guest speaker at the rally. Credit: Kim Kim Foster-Tobin/The State