There was a time, not so long ago, when liberals understood and championed the cause of religious freedom. Look no further than the very first abortion-related vote ever taken in Congress. The date was March 27, 1973; Roe was barely two months old, and already the pro-choice army had begun mobilizing to judicially force religious hospitals to perform abortions. Catholic Bishops announced that a court order forcing their hospitals to perform abortions would be met with civil disobedience. Unless Congress intervened quickly, the abortion wars in America were about to get really ugly really fast.
When Frank Church, a pro-choice Democratic Senator from Idaho learned of this, he was horrified, and immediately introduced legislation to allow hospitals, doctors, and nurses the freedom of conscience on matters relating to abortion. This proposal received enthusiastic support from the rest of the Senate. Among the most vocal proponents was none other than the Liberal Lion himself, Ted Kennedy. During debate, he eloquently expressed the foundational importance of religious freedom in America. The only Senator to publicly express opposition to the Church amendment was New York RINO Jacob Javits, but even he ended up voting for it in the end.
The vote was 92-1 (the always eccentric William Fulbright cast the only nay vote). Even Oregon Senator Bob Packwood, the loudest and most extreme abortion advocate in Congress for most of the 1970s and 1980s, voted yea. Around the same time, Margaret Heckler, a pro-life feminist from Massachusetts, introduced several bills almost identical to Church’s in the House of Representatives. Although never voted on due to passage of the Church amendment, their cosponsors included far left pro-choice women like Patsy Mink (D-HI), Barbara Jordan (D-TX), and Shirley Chisholm (D-NY).
Needless to say, such a degree of unanimity would be absolutely unthinkable today. If the vote on the Blunt amendment is any indication, the Church amendment might have trouble even getting a majority in the current Senate. The militant, anti-religious pro-abortion ideology which was on the fringe in 1973 has become hardened dogma for the Democratic party four decades later. The value of religious freedom, long championed by liberals, is just another unfortunate sacrifice (much like the millions of babies) which must be made in pursuit of total reproductive freedom.
A massive battle is coming. If Romney wins in November, it will be delayed for a few more years, but it is coming nonetheless. The liberal support of religious freedom which was so evident in 1973 has vanished without a trace. The pro-life conscience no longer has any place in pro-choice orthodoxy; like an unwanted pregnancy, it must be destroyed. The era of common ground, and common values is over forever.