Statement on Senator Casey’s Vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act

On February 28th, the Senate voted down the Women’s Health Protection Act by a vote of 46 to48 mostly along party lines.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said of the bill, “This will be the first time that the Senate takes a vote on a stand-alone bill to proactively codify Roe.” Senator Joe Manchin was the only Senator to not vote along party lines.  What is surprising about this is not that Manchin voted “no,: but that he was not joined by Senator Robert B. Casey, who has called himself pro-life and has said that Roe should be overturned. Instead, Casey voted “yes” in favor of the bill.

To justify this vote, Casey employed a series of non-sequiturs. He claimed that this was due to past and future Supreme Court rulings (presumably, he means this summer’s possibility that Dobbs will overturn Roe, the precise case he says should be overturned). Casey then claimed that the Republican Party is using this issue as a “political weapon.” Does he really believe that the Democrats do not? Does he know that the abortion industry outspends the pro-life industry in some cases by a 10 to 1? So much for opposing money in politics or standing up for the little gal. Finally, he claims that he has always worked to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion, ironic given that the bill makes no mention of such things. And, he has made little effort to continue funding the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, which actually supports women with unintended pregnancies.

The legislation Senator Casey supported says such things as:

·         “Abortion services are essential to health care and access to those services is central to people’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States. Abortion access allows people who are pregnant to make their own decisions about their pregnancies, their families, and their lives.”

·         “Reproductive justice requires every individual to have the right to make their own decisions about having children regardless of their circumstances and without interference and discrimination.”

·         “Reproductive justice seeks to address restrictions on reproductive health, including abortion, that perpetuate systems of oppression, lack of bodily autonomy, white supremacy, and anti-Black racism. This violent legacy has manifested in policies including enslavement, rape, and experimentation on Black women; forced sterilizations; medical experimentation on low-income women’s reproductive systems; and the forcible removal of Indigenous children.”

General Rule — A health care provider has a statutory right under this Act to provide abortion services, and may provide abortion services, and that provider’s patient has a corresponding right to receive such services, without any of the following limitations or requirements:

Under limitations or requirements, the bill lists health and safety regulations – many of which Senators Casey voted for or supported – to ensure abortion is at least safe for the women -Now presumably, Casey was either too lazy to read this, or perhaps he believes this gaslighting nonsense. First, given the well-known racist views of Margent Sanger, let alone Lothrop Stoddard, both founding members of the American Birth Control League now called Planned Parenthood to call the other side the racist is some Orwellian speech. Yet, apparently, Casey is happy to accept the “Big Lie” of the abortion industry.

 If opposing abortion legalization is “white supremacy” and “anti-black racism,” I guess Cardinal O’Boyle (who gave the opening convocation at the March on Washington), Civil Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hammer, State Senator Katrina Jackson (D-LA),  and Rep. Rosetta Ferguson failed to get the NARAL press release.

Finally, and most personally for Casey, his father, the late Governor Robert Casey Sr., would count as one of these racists. The Senior Casey’s record proves otherwise. The late Nat Hentoff noted, “As for civil rights, under Casey’s leadership, more women were appointed to his cabinet than by any other governor in the country. He appointed the first black woman to sit on a state supreme court, and state contracts to women and minority firms increased more than 1,500 percent.”

Despite this and other numerous successes in labor and healthcare work that should have made any Democrat proud, Casey was not rewarded for his service, but instead shunned and humiliated. At the 1992 Democratic Convention, Casey wanted to make a speech encouraging the party to embrace a pro-life platform. No doubt Casey was thinking of the time that Civil Right Champion and pro-lifer Hubert Humphrey gave his own speech at the 1948 convention, where he managed to convince the party into adopting a strong Civil Rights plank.

Casey was not only denied a speaking slot, but he was also banished to the far end of the convention. Instead a speaking slot was given to Pro-Choice Republican representative Kathy Taylor, whose main achievement in office was helping to defeat Casey’s progressive tax reforms. It did not end there, with a camera crew sent to find Casey after the speech and buttons given out showing Casey as the Pope.

 Democrats for Life of America has defended Casey for years from charges that he was not truly “Pro-Life.” Sadly, Democrats For Life announced that they will no longer defend the Senator. As it stands the faster Casey is thrown out of office the better so his actions will not continue to harm pro-life Democrats who have the courage to stand up for their beliefs. Until Casey changes his vote and actually puts in some effort to defend the preborn, our position will not change. He has shown himself to be nothing but a fraud and traitor to the cause of pro-life for the whole life Democrats and that of his father. Casey is willing to exploit his father’s name to win elections, but not actually bother to defend his ideals. With this action Casey joins the long list of politicians like Tim Ryan and Joe Biden, who have sold-out their principles in service of political power and influence. Men such as these are the precise reason why so many Americans despise politics and politicians with their banal repetition of the same trite answers and their utter lack of principles.

One need only read Dante’s Inferno to know the fate of traitors. Yet to compare Casey to either Brutus or Cassius is a disservice to both; at least they believed that their betrayal was in service of justice. Casey’s, in contrast, is craven spinelessness in service only of future political ambitions. It would be sad and pitiful, if he were not such a pathetic character. Upon Casey Sr.’s death on May 30th 2000, former aide James Carville said this of Casey’s father: “You have no idea what a deep sense of probity he had…. He was just the kind of person that made the whole Washington establishment completely uncomfortable…. They could never understand him.” President Clinton, himself said he admired the governor’s “commitment to principle.” No one will say such things about his son.