Monday, March 15, 2010

The Courage of Danny Tarkanian

In 1990, the prolife movement was on the ropes. After the U. S. Supreme Court in Webster v. Reproductive Services (1989) seemed to indicate it was on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade (1973), the abortion choice movement kicked into high gear. (Of course, Roe did not get overturned, but was reaffirmed on different grounds in Casey v. Planned Parenthood [1992]).

The prolife movement was not prepared for its opponents' aggressive political and media campaigns that employed the specter of Roe's possible demise as a wedge issue in a number of elections throughout the United States. One of these elections was ballot question 7, a 1990 referendum in Nevada that was intended to codify Roe v. Wade as a part of Nevada statutory law. Abortion choice supporters proposed this ballot question so that if Roe were overturned by the Court, the right to abortion would remain undisturbed in Nevada. (Remember, an overturning of Roe v. Wade would only send the issue of abortion back to the states. It would not entail an elimination of the right to abortion per se. For more on Roe v. Wade, see my law review article here.).

One of the more courageous prolife souls in Nevada at the time was a young attorney named Danny Tarkanian, a UNLV basketball star who had no personal or professional reason at the time to offer his support to the prolife forces that fought against question 7. In other words, he had nothing to gain from hitching his wagon to any prolife star. At this time in Nevada and U. S. history the prolife position was not as widely held as it is today. It would have been unimaginable at the time to have a liberal U. S. President, as we do now, who, though a supporter of abortion choice, would go out of his way to say things that make it seem as if abortion is not a good thing. (Take, for example, President Obama's 2009 commencement address at the University of Notre Dame). In 1990, abortion was often presented as a good that helps liberate women, end poverty, and limit the number of unwanted and abused children.

And yet, despite what appeared to be a cultural tsunami at the time, Danny resisted it. He agreed to appear in a commercial opposing question 7. He eloquently, and convincingly, explained the nature of question 7 and why he was prolife.

The good thing for Nevadans is that this courageous man is running for the United States Senate to replace the ever-diminishing Harry Reid. Unlike others whose convictions shift with the times and the fortunes of their political prospects, Danny has remained a person of conviction.

I have known Danny for nearly 35 years. We were teammates on the 1978 Bishop Gorman High School men's basketball team that took the state AAA championship. And we are both graduates of UNLV (me 1983; him 1984).

It is my hope and prayer that my beloved Nevada, the state in which I grew up, elect Danny Tarkanian as its next U. S. Senator.

1 comment:

danielle said...

Awesome! I am excited to vote for him. However I am still wishing he was an opponent of the war because they are pre-emptive rather than defensive.