Much political chatter this year has urged prochoice advocates and politicians to move to the right. How many more times are they required to recite the pledge — ”We want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare” — while prolife purists fight to make it unsafe and illegal? — Ellen Goodman
Amen, Sister Ellen.
Ms. Goodman says the new South Dakota law that bans abortions except to save the life of the mother has awakened some people to what the so-called “right to life” movement is really about.
As Nancy Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice America put it simply: ”They’ve come out from behind the curtain.” Forget the political jockeying by prolifers to gain a foothold with moderates. Never mind laws on parental notification and consent in the name of family involvement. Or attempts to ban one abortion procedure at a time. Or laws to mandate misinformation and waiting periods.
Until now the antiabortion right has not only tried to frame itself as moderate, it has dressed up in woman-friendly camouflage. It has touted research that makes one false claim after another linking abortion with depression and breast cancer. It has cast women as the hapless victims of abortion and portrayed its own side as protectors.
Every time I hear the Fetus People express concern about the “dangers” of abortion I want to scream. A first-trimester abortion is, statistically, considerably safer than pregnancy and childbirth. This goes double for young teens. But abortions become more dangerous the longer they are postponed. So, if you actually care about safety, you want to close as many abortion clinics as possible, mandate waiting periods, and otherwise make women jump through as many hoops as you can devise before they can finally have the procedure. Oh, wait …
I am sick to death of “pundits” and “experts” who advise us liberals that we’re the ones who have to adapt on the issue of abortion; we’re the ones who have to compromise; we’re the ones who have to prove we have hearts. Bleep that. Consider the experience of Marie Myung-Ok Lee when she arrived at an abortion clinic —
As I exited the car like some kind of odd celebrity, I wasn’t prepared for the older woman who shoved her face an inch from mine and screamed that I was murdering my baby. I wasn’t prepared for the looks of pure hate, no, the looks that could kill. I seem to vaguely recall being warned not to make eye contact, but I did, and I saw what I thought was someone who would gladly murder me to keep me from entering the clinic.
Myung-Ok Lee was not, in fact, pregnant.
Michael BÃ©rubÃ© has a post up directed at moderates and others who didn’t believe the anti-choice people were serious. Ralph Nader, for example, quoted in 2000 —
Mr. Nader said he did not think there would be much difference between the justices Mr. Gore would choose and those Mr. Bush would appoint. After all, Democrats had helped confirm Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, hadnâ€™t they? Besides, â€œYou canâ€™t really predict how Supreme Court justices will behave.â€
And he called the possibility that a court packed with Republican appointees could overturn Roe v. Wade a â€œscare tactic.â€ On Sunday, Mr. Nader said in a television interview that even if Roe v. Wade was overturned, the issue â€œwould just revert to the states.â€ Just?
â€œHereâ€™s what happened on that,â€ he said wearily. â€œThe scare tactic is that would end choice in America, and I just said thatâ€™s not true, but I should have been astute enough not to mention that.â€
He said he did not in any case believe for a moment that Mr. Bush would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. â€œThe first back alley death, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble and they know it,â€ he said. He described the partyâ€™s opposition to abortion as just for show, â€œjust for Pat Robertson.”
This was part of Ralph’s “Democrats are just as bad” rationalization, btw; the claim that it didn’t matter whether the nation elected Bush or Gore in 2000. They were both just alike, Ralph said. Thanks, Ralph.
Anyway, Michael B. writes, too many men on the left didn’t believe the rightie culture warriors really mean what they say.
They really mean it. This is no bullshit. There is no downside to overturning Roe for them — and if there is, they don’t care. If they want to overturn Griswald, they’ll do that too. They fought the gun control fight when people were freaking out over crime in the streets and political assassinations. Conservative absolutists don’t give up just because liberals get up-in-arms. They certainly don’t care if we think they are shrill.
We’re up against utterly irrational extremism here. We’re not going to change their minds. But they are a minority. The majority of American support Roe v. Wade and don’t want laws like South Dakota’s put into effect. Bleep moving to the Right. We’ve got to say to the majority, these people want legal control of your reproductive system. Is this OK with you? If not, will you please wake the bleep up and pay attention to which bleeping political candidates you vote for?
Scott Lemieux has a new series posted at Lawyers, Guns and Money on the importance of Roe v. Wade and why arguments that it was “wrongly decided” are a pile of pooh. Check out:
In this last post, Scott argues that the South Dakota law presents us with an opportunity to go on offense and change the debate.
Even before this pro-choicers already had many opportunities, starting with the fact that the national Republican Platform endorses a constitutional amendment that would make abortion first-degree murder in all 50 states. When was the last time you heard a Democratic politician mention that, even though maximizing the public’s knowledge of their opponent’s most unpopular positions would seem to be Politics 101? Instead, taking the advice of people like Saletan they accept the debate as it has been arbitrarily carved up by disingenuous pro-lifers, getting in sucked into ludicrous ginned-up non-issues like the “partial-birth” nonsense. The Republicans have been masterful about playing both ends, and keeping the debate focused on tangential side issues. The way to counteract this is not to go along with the existing discourse, but to change the terms of the debate, to make clear what Republicans want to do and put the debate in terms of keeping abortion legal, where public opinion massively favors the Democrats. The draconian (and illegal) actions of the South Dakota legislature provide an excellent frame for making this clear, but the Democrats need to start playing some offense.
During the 2004 election I kept hearing that Kerry didn’t know how to “talk” about abortion. That’s because he had to simultaneously express the view that he didn’t like it while proposing to keep it legal. Too much nuance.
Here’s our new message: The Fetus People want to ban all abortions, and when they’ve accomplished that they want to ban birth control. Here’s your choice: Vote for them, and they own your reproductive system; or vote for us, and you can make your own choices. Don’t like abortion? Don’t get one.
Not too nuanced, I don’t believe.