Earlier this week, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge went on an all-out verbal assault against social conservatives, including pro-lifers, within the Republican Party. He called social conservatives “narcissists and ideologues” that are “too damned self-righteous” and are imposing “tyranny” on the nation. He said that pro-lifers had forgotten about the separation of church and state and he laid the blame for electoral losses at their feet.
Ridge is wrong in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to start.
First, Ridge is wrong about electoral politics. Republicans have lost the last two elections despite nominating candidates who, while they were pro-life, refused to go on offense on the issue of abortion. Five of the seven Republican congressmen who voted against a ban on sex-selection abortion were forced out of Congress during the last election cycle. And in Ridge’s home state of Pennsylvania, the voters have elected broad cross sections of pro-life, bipartisan legislators to the U.S. House and Senate.
Additionally, Ridge’s own self-righteousness is alarming considering his record on abortion. In the wake of the Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia, many Americans wondered how such a monster could work undetected for such a long period of time. The grand jury in the case placed the blame squarely upon Governor Ridge. Describing Ridge’s administration, they said the following:
“…the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.”
In the name of “women’s health”, Tom Ridge allowed Gosnell’s House of Horrors to go uninspected for 18 years, despite warnings of illegal late-term abortions and the death and harm of women within the clinic. Ridge would have Republicans believe that he was a pro-woman, pragmatic governor who focused on governing. In reality, it was Ridge who was an ideologue, choosing to score political points rather than protect women.
Ridge is right to say that there is a split in the Republican Party. On one side, there is a man who enabled Kermit Gosnell. On the other, there are those who are working to stop future Gosnells. It is not a divide between right and left, it is a divide between right and wrong. And Tom Ridge is standing on the wrong side.