The Curious Case of Senator Casey

Joe Veix

Senator Casey (D., Pa) opposes abortion but has been criticized by the right for not being sufficiently anti-choice. What side is he on?

Last Friday, Diocese of Scranton Bishop Joseph F. Martino accused Senator Bob Casey, Jr. (D., Pa) of "cooperating with…evil" because of Casey’s lack of support for legislation that would block U.S. tax dollars from supporting family planning groups that don’t renounce abortion. Puzzling.

Let’s ignore the muddy philosophical problems of Martino’s accusation – that not voting for something is a form of cooperation – but instead talk about Casey, who opposes abortion.

At first it’s easy to be irritated by Casey’s stance on abortion; the man isn’t shy about his position. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2005, he spoke about Roe v. Wade, saying, "You can’t say you have the position I have and not believe that."  He has a 65% rating from NARAL. Casey voted to confirm both Samuel Alito and John Roberts. He’s against stem cell research.  The list goes on.

Then odd things appear, like Friday’s news article, which are all the more odd when compared to Casey’s supposed position on tax-funded abortion (he’s opposed, apparently). I guess he’s changed his position on that one. Casey also supports contraceptives, and is pro-choice in instances of rape, incest, and for the life of the mother.

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There are many theories one could draw about Casey, the easiest to prove being that Casey is in it for the votes, and is now moving towards a more liberal stance now that the Democrats are in charge. Republicans are certainly suspicious of this. Catholic League president Bill Donahue said that Casey is pro-life "In name only."

It’s worth noting that in 2006 Casey ran against staunch conservative Rick Santorum, in one of the costliest elections in Pennsylvania’s history. Casey was "the first Democrat to be elected to a six-year senate term since 1962."

Casey’s inconsistencies on the issues are scary, but do give us some hope that, maybe, he’s trudging towards a pro-choice stance.

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