Robert P. Casey, RIP
"Robert P. Casey followed principles, not polls. The former Pennsylvania governor, who lost a long fight for life Tuesday night, took his convictions to the voters from the 1960s to the 1990s and simply refused to accept defeat. What a fighter he was. "
Philadelphia Inquirer, editorial, June 2
"Casey's name will thus be linked forever to the anti-abortion cause - - a legacy of which he was undoubtedly proud. He was a man of substance, of character. In an age of politicians constantly holding their fingers to the political winds, Casey was a man of conviction, unafraid to fight for his beliefs."
Craig Dimitri's commentarythat appeared in the June 2 Philadelphia Inquirer
"He was given some special gift for empathy even before he was called to endure so much himself. For him, as for so many Democrats at one time, it seemed the most natural connection to extend that merciful spirit to the unborn child, the most innocent life on earth, to rise in protest against this 'ultimate exploitation of the weak by the strong.' "
Matthew Scully, June 1 Wall Street Journal
not followed his condition as closely as I should have, it came as a huge shock
a few months ago when a friend sadly told me that pro-life former Pennsylvania
Gov. Bob Casey was gravely ill. Little did I suspect that this pro-life giant, a
man whose strength of will was like a force of nature, would pass away only
weeks after the Movement lost Cardinal John O 'Connor.
The feisty, indefatigable 68-year-old Casey died in his sleep May 30 of complications from a hereditary disease known as amyloidosis. This rare disease causes abnormal proteins to clog and destroy organs. The disease had progressed so far by the time doctors diagnosed his condition, Casey was forced to undergo a risky heart-liver transplant in 1993. Although he was the longest survivor of the dual transplant in American history, Casey was in poor health much of the past few years. He is survived by his wife, the former Ellen Theresa Harding, four daughters, four sons, and 28 grandchildren.
John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News described him as "A Political Legend." Of Casey, Baer wrote, "[H]e became the rarest of politicians: he left office more popular than he entered it, and he left held in high personal regard, perhaps more so than any other modern political figure."
The initial press coverage following his death was noticeably nicer to Casey, governor from 1987 to 1995, than he'd experienced during long stretches of his political career. This hostility, particularly from the national press, surely was because Casey was a pro-life Democrat in a party which, on the national level, has essentially become a wholly owned subsidiary of NARAL. How likely do you think it is that reporters, most of whom self- identify as "pro-choice," would toss softballs to a man who fearlessly went to bat for the unborn over and over again?
To the wider public, Casey will best be remembered for the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act and for the Democratic Party's refusal to allow him to speak at its 1992 presidential nominating convention. That was the convention that, regrettably, first gave us Bill Clinton and Al Gore, men as adamantly unwilling to help the unborn in any way as Casey was unflaggingly determined to help the unborn (and their mothers) in every way.
You may recall that in 1989 the Supreme Court opened the door a crack to passage of protective state legislation. Seizing on the slight opening provided in the Webster case, the Pennsylvania legislature quickly enacted the Abortion Control Act. Naturally, the pro-abortionists immediately challenged the measure in court.
To the great disappointment of pro-lifers, three years later, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the High Court upheld the core provisions of Roe v. Wade. The consolation prize, as it were, was that portions of Pennsylvania's law, including informed consent for women with a 24-hour waiting period, were upheld.
Yet experience has demonstrated that even these limited protective measures save many lives! According to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, after finally going into effect in 1994, the law resulted in a 20% drop in the state's abortion rate in just three years.
Gov. Casey's dogged determination, his resolute refusal to give in, showed up not only in his defense of the unborn, but also in his legendary persistence in the face of electoral defeat. Casey first ran for governor when he was only 30. He lost and then lost twice more again. The 1978 defeat was an especially bitter pill to swallow. Confusion over another candidate with the same name siphoned off just enough votes to cost Casey the election.
But Casey, bless his heart, never gave up. In 1985 as he began yet another campaign, he said, "I've had a love affair with Pennsylvania for 20 years," adding wryly, "At times it's been unrequited, but my ardor has never cooled."
Casey finally won the governor's office in 1986 and was reelected in 1990 by the largest margin in Pennsylvania history.
Robert Zausner of the Philadelphia Inquirer described Casey as a "fervent Democrat." Casey richly earned the reputation as a man who stood solidly behind the "little guy." No wonder then that Casey (in Zausner's words) was "unswervingly opposed to abortion."
However, make no mistake about it, Casey paid an enormous price for his principled stand. Casey's most humiliating experience, perhaps, was in 1992 when the Democratic National Convention refused to allow him to speak. Imagine this kind of treatment of a governor of a electoral vote-rich state who had been reelected by a margin of one million votes!
After leaving office Gov. Casey wrote Fighting for Life (Word Books, 1996). In it, he outlined the not-so-subtle bigotry on display at the 1992 convention. To offer just one example, pro- abortionists sold buttons depicting him as the pope.
"To me, it was simply a case of anti-Catholic bigotry," Casey wrote. "What was going on here? What had become of the Democratic Party I once knew?"
In 1996, he was again denied the chance to speak at the Democratic National Convention. This time he went across town, borrowed a room, and called a press conference. Casey warned his party that it was making a huge political blunder in refusing to stand up for the powerless.
Time and time again, Casey admonished pro-lifers to stand athwart the culture - - to never forget the helpless, to refuse to be tempted by the seduction of power, and to never give up! Tough as nails, Casey had no time for handwringers. It was as if growing up the son of a coal miner had innoculated him, making him immune to defeatism.
In highly charged words delivered in a commencement address at Steubenville University in Ohio, Casey reminded graduates, "Never forget that beneath all the slogans and fierce arguments is the fate of innocent children. They need your love; their mothers need your courage. Do not be discouraged in the face of scorn: Press on!"
In a 1993 speech to the National Press Club, Casey declared, "I believe abortion is destined for the scrap heap of history. Abortion is being held aloft by the hot air of a small well- heeled elite. It's on the artificial life support system of foundation money, politically correct elite opinion, special interests, media bias, and widespread ignorance of the facts. ...
"You cannot stifle this debate with a piece of paper," he insisted. "No edict, no federal mandate can put to rest the grave doubts of the American people. Legal abortion will never rest easy on this nation's conscience. It will continue to haunt the consciences of men and women everywhere."
Casey proudly observed that "we are at the moral core of the party of Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, not the party of Kate Michelman and Patricia Ireland." In that vein, he boldly pronounced, "We are the party of the weak and the vulnerable. In our pursuit of rights and social justice, we don't believe in leaving anyone behind, neither the young mother in need of our understanding nor the child in need of our mercy."
All of us shall miss Bob Casey, but most of all those pro-life Democrats who've been trashed by a national leadership in hock to the NARALs and Planned Parenthoods of this world. For the Democratic Party, this utterly disastrous turnabout is costing them millions of supporters, a truth they have yet to recognize.
Like Casey, we refuse to to give up. We are absolutely convinced that, though a political party may temporarily lose its moral compass, the eventual outcome will be like the man who loses the faith of his youth but who one day comes to his senses.
Bob Casey never gave up trying to reverse his party's anti-life direction. To a national party that slavishly serves the Abortion Establishment, Casey spoke up for those who refuse to sell their consciences out of a misguided sense of political expediency.
In a world filled with vacillators, Casey had backbone.
For all these reasons and a thousand more, we say, "Thank You, Bob Casey."
dave andrusko [email@example.com]