The problem with GOP politician's abortion revelation isn’t the abortion

Paige Masten
The Charlotte Observer (TNS)
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson speaks during a press conference in Raleigh on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer/TNS)

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has always been particularly forceful in his postulation that nobody, for any reason, should ever have an abortion.

So it was surprising to learn that the state’s highest-ranking Republican once made that very choice.

WRAL reported Wednesday that Robinson apparently paid for the mother of his “unborn child” to have an abortion in 1989, according to a comment he left on his own Facebook post in 2012.

“I’m not saying abortion is wrong cause I said so it’s wrong cause God says so,” Robinson’s comment said. “It’s wrong when others do it and it was wrong when I paid for it to be done to my unborn child in 1989.”

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Of course, there’s nothing wrong with Robinson and his sexual partner choosing to have an abortion. It’s an incredibly difficult decision — one that everyone should be allowed to make — and he certainly doesn’t owe anyone an explanation or justification for why it happened.

What he should explain, though, is why he wants to deprive others of a right he was able to exercise himself.

Robinson campaigned on a pro-life platform and opposes all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. He has said that abortion is a “moral evil like slavery” and that once a woman is pregnant, “it’s not [her] body anymore.”

“We allow the murder of the most innocent human beings on earth and we do it with impunity,” Robinson said at an anti-abortion rally in January 2021, days after he was sworn in as lieutenant governor.

Abortion aside, what Robinson may be guilty of is the political sin of being fake. Robinson’s past was not public knowledge until now, and he doesn’t appear to have mentioned it on the campaign trail. Plenty of people don’t seem to mind — although they should — that he’s a blowhard who regularly disparages those around him. But they might mind that he’s a fraud who neglected to tell voters something very important about himself until somebody else discovered it. Moral fraud, after all, is sometimes the worst kind of fraud.

Obviously, opinions and beliefs can evolve. In his Facebook comment, Robinson said that his decision to pay for the abortion was “wrong,” and he is allowed to regret it. But there are millions of people who have made the same decision and don’t regret it at all, and that, too, is their prerogative. Regardless of how he may feel about it now, Robinson benefited from the fundamental right to have an abortion when he needed it, yet he wants to deny the same opportunity to others.

And that — Robinson’s failure to display even a shred of empathy for those who might find themselves in the same predicament he did nearly 30 years ago — is the real problem here. There’s a certain kind of moral hypocrisy involved in condemning others for a choice that you, too, once made.

Everyone should have the right to choose what’s best for themselves and their families, including Mark Robinson. It’s a shame that, despite his past, he doesn’t feel the same way.

— Paige Masten is an opinion writer for the Charlotte Observer and McClatchy’s North Carolina opinion team.