Gov. Beshear criticized socially conservative policy on human life and the family in his weekly news conference:

“Every moment that they focus on these culture war type issues, trying to create a new bogeyman for the next election, trying to rile people up, it means they’re not doing important work that could benefit every single person.” 

He was responding to a “horrendous” (in his words) ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court that frozen embryos are just as deserving of the right to life as any other unborn child. He repeated one word throughout his remarks: “extremism.”

Let’s remember the two issues that Beshear is talking about. First, the Alabama decision is commonly described as a “ban” on IVF procedures. Actually, it makes a strong argument against abortion: unborn children are persons with dignity and worth; it is as wrong to unjustly kill them as it is to kill any other person. IVF indefinitely freezes numerous embryos. If these frozen embryos are unborn children created in the image of God, then it is wrong to select some for birth and discard others. This court decision is the most recent state ruling that acknowledges the humanity of human embryos, and it has caused pro-abortion lobbyists to panic.

Second, Sen. Lindsey Tichenor (R-Smithfield) has introduced the Women’s Bill of Rights, a common sense list of implications regarding the biological differences between men and women and related moral truths. It defines male and female by biological gender and protects bathrooms and locker-rooms as single-sex spaces.

Are either of these extreme? Is it extreme that a court found that a human embryo deserves protection under the law? Is it extreme that there is a difference between men and women? Unfortunately, basic moral truths about the beginning of personhood and the biological realities of male and female are under attack. Social conservatives believe that all lives—unborn and frozen, active and youthful, or elderly and frail—have dignity and should be protected by law. They also believe that nature reveals basic differences between men and women and that it is good for our public life and its institutions to acknowledge and protect those differences.

It’s not extreme to establish moral standards for a society that foster well-being and protect children. Gov. Beshear’s definition of extremism appears to be anything that constrains desire, regardless of whether that desire conforms to reality. This is a position unbefitting an elected official who is tasked with enforcing laws that accord with justice and the common good.

The same day that Beshear called social conservative policies extreme, a member of his own party, State Sen. Karen Berg (D-Louisville), defended the positive uses of child sex dolls. She said that she had found “conclusive” research which demonstrates that these dolls are able to prevent pedophiles from actually abusing children. After significant national pushback, Berg downplayed (but did not recant) her suggestion and voted for a Republican bill to ban child sex dolls. The same day, Berg also tried to justify drag performances for children in public spaces by saying of performances involving nudity, “It is not necessarily inappropriate for a minor to be in that situation. Sometimes it’s actually very appropriate.”

In light of Berg’s comments, which is the extreme position? Is it defending child sex dolls and exposing children to sexually explicit performances, or is it protecting embryos and single-sex bathrooms?

Beshear claims social issues are extraneous and distract from important policy which benefits all Kentuckians, namely infrastructure and economic development. But this position ignores something even more important: the moral structure of society. If we neglect basic biological truths like the beginning of life and differences between men and women, our society will be built on a shoddy foundation. Social issues are an inevitable part of government and any political leader who pretends otherwise is deceiving himself.