Congressman Steven LaTourette, a retiring moderate Republican from Ohio, voted "present" last night on the D.C. late-term aboriton ban. "LaTourette says the most significant piece of legislation to hit the House floor on Tuesday is emblematic of why he’s decided to step aside," reports Chad Pergram of Fox News. "Mr. LaTourette says polarization is paralyzing Congress. And the measure to ban late-term abortions in the District of Columbia exempflies that."
But is the D.C. late-term abortion ban really that polarizing? Voters support such bans by a 3-to-1 margin, according to one poll. The bill received support of 17 Democratic members of Congress. And President Obama has even claimed in the past to support late-term abortion bans (though he has been silent on this particular piece of legislation). So it's hard to see why the D.C. late-term ban--which simply sought to curb D.C.'s extreme abortion-until-birth policy--is "polarizing."
In fact, the bill is such a moderate piece of legislation that four months ago Congressman LaTourette found it fit to cosponsor. Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee writes in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
In his long celebration of Mr. LaTourette's decision to vote "present" on the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803), Mr. Pergram reveals his apparent lack of awareness that Mr. LaTourette himself had quite voluntarily signed up as a cosponsor on that very bill, on April 17. The fact that the bill had 223 cosponsors, including Mr. LaTourette, was one of the factors that dictated that it should be given some time on the House floor. A reader armed with this knowledge may find Mr. LaTourette's action in voting "present" to be bizarre, and his "explanation" to be both incoherent and pretentious--while Mr. Pergram's analysis is seen to be built on sand.
The Ohio congressmen may be leaving Washington, D.C. soon, but perhaps he's helped coin a new term in town. LaTourette Syndrome: the condition in which a moderate congressman is so enamored with his own moderation he denounces his own legislation as extreme.