As Pro-Lifers now face a monolithically pro-abortion federal government, it might be useful for them to look at last year’s Supreme Court decision about Guam. Despite robust opposition from Justice Anthony Scalia, the Court refused to hear Guam’s abortion case, which means the ruling of a California court striking down all of Guam’s restrictions on abortion as “unconstitutional” still stands.
Almost as abhorrent as the decision itself was Charles Krauthammer’s incredible interpretation of it: “The moral of the story is that democracy works. In a democracy the law comes to reflect the people’s basic mores.” Abortion will remain unrestricted in Guam because an American court over four thousand miles away from the Pacific island has overruled the locally elected government’s legislation. Krauthammer calls this democracy at work.
In a sense, of course, this is nothing new. Pro-abortionists have always pretended opposition to abortion came from a minority wishing to control the country. In actual fact, the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision was a classic ease of judiciarchy—of the federal court outlawing the democratic process of the state legislatures. What makes Krauthammer’s interpretation unique is his amazing ability to stretch these pro-abortion populist pretensions into what is essentially a foreign country.
Guam is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands, located in the west-central Pacific. As an unincorporated territory, Guam is not even extended the full range of constitutional protections the ^0 states enjoy Residents of Guam were not granted American citizenship until 1950, when supervision of the island was transferred from the Navy to the Department of the Interior. Until 1970, the governor of the territory was appointed by the President of the United States. Though Guam can now send an elected delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, it is not allowed direct representation in Congress.
Furthermore, the acquisition of Guam b) the United States was accomplished not through discovery or colonization, but solely through military conquest. Originally part of the Spanish Empire, like the Philippines and a number of other Pacific territories, the island was ceded to the United States after the Spanish-American War. It is now used by the United States as a major naval staging area.
To make matters worse, Guam has almost nothing in common—culturally or demographically—with America. After three centuries of Spanish missionary work among the natives, the majority of its indigenous population is solidly Roman Catholic and culturally Hispanic. Among its 130,000 inhabitants, Guam has a 90 percent literacy rate due primarily to a system of parochial schools that undergirds taxpayer-subsidized public education. Despite the availability of jobs provided by the military base, Guam has several expanding industries of its own, including tourism and fishing.
Yet Krauthammer calls the decision of a California court to overrule Guam’s government an example of democracy at work. Invoking the Guam ease and the election of Clinton as well as of several other pro-abortion candidates, he opines: “It is important for Republicans to recognize that the battle is over. Years ago. Republicans suicidally carried on against the New Deal long after it had been accepted by most citizens as part of the fabric of American political life. Republicans had better not do the same with legal abortion, now, for better or worse also part of the fabric of American life.”
So what are pro-lifers to do? Krauthammer says we should concentrate on changing minds, not laws. To a certain extent, he is no doubt correct. But if pro-lifers restrict their activity to proselytization, they probably face a losing battle. For one thing, the anti-abortion position isn’t based simply on a moralism like the anti-tobacco lobby, but on a legal philosophy that claims unborn babies ought to be protected from aggression. Secondly—though I am loathe to admit this—laws have a pedagogical effect on society. Tax-funded abortions are more persuasive to larger numbers of people than personal conversations.
A working strategy for the next century would complement the educational work of pro-lifers, circumvent all three branches of the federal government, and still claim the populist moral high ground of democracy; pro-lifers should persuade Guam to secede. While a call for territorial secession will undoubtedly meet stiff and astonished opposition, it is hard to see how the federal government could justify refusing the island independence. After all, why should a secular democracy rule over a Catholic country that it acquired through conquest? Pro-lifers could use the precedent set by the breakup of the former Soviet Union. They could appeal to the right of self-determination and accuse Congress of imperialism. How could the government possibly object?
Guam’s attempt at independence could start several other movements. First, it might help to spread the various secessionist movements that exist in the United States. In states like Alaska and Hawaii this is a distinct possibility. It might also give conservatives a chance to popularize the notion of state nullification. At the very least, the discussion surrounding Guam might give Americans a chance to get reacquainted with the Tenth Amendment. This would not only help to break up the abortion consensus but would provide an opportunity to unravel other strands “of the fabric of American political life.” How could federal New Deal programs survive such a challenge?
With the Freedom of Choice Act looming on the horizon and the transnational New World Order now upon us, we desperately need a secessionary groundswell. I can’t think of a better place to start than with Guam.