There’s one sad news item today, which is that it appears California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, has passed. I don’t know if it’s been officially called yet, but the numbers don’t look good. Last night voters also passed anti-gay marriage amendments in Arizona and Florida. Arkansas voted to ban adoption and foster parenting by gays.
On the plus side, yesterday three states had initiatives on the ballots that would have limited abortion rights, and all of them failed.
- Colorado voters defeated a referendum that would have criminalized abortion and some forms of birth control by defining human life as beginning at the moment of conception. This failed big; a not-final tally had the votes at 74% to 26% opposed.
- South Dakota defeated a measure that would have banned abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when there was severe risk to the life of the mother. This was a slightly tweaked version of another initiative that South Dakota rejected two years ago. The not-final tally is 55% to 45%, which seems pretty decisive to me.
- California’s parental-notification referendum also is failing, although I don’t think the results are official as of this morning.
I’m not 100 percent certain this is true, but I have read that, since Roe v. Wade, no state referendum limiting abortion rights has ever passed. I’d also like to point out that yesterday’s election was between a candidate with a 100 percent approval rating from NARAL and one with a 0 percent approval rating from NARAL.
Notice who won. Notice who won big and easily.
The message that I hope is not lost on either party is that it’s time to stop catering to the Fetus People. I’m sure there are states and localities in which being opposed to reproductive rights can still help a candidate win elections. But those are exceptions, not the rule. It appears to me that an enormous majority of voters, including voters in conservative states like South Dakota, are either mostly pro-choice or are more concerned about other issues.
In short, the anti-reproductive rights movement has no political clout except in the most conservative localities. And in those localities, conservatives probably don’t need the Fetus People to win elections.
The message to Democrats is that they don’t have to be afraid of the anti-choice vote. Say it loud — we’re pro-choice, and proud. And the message to Republicans is that being against abortion is not the wedge they thought it was. In fact, on a national level, being opposed to abortion rights seems a huge liability.
We’ve all heard the story that John McCain wanted to choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate and was overruled, entirely because Lieberman is pro-choice. Another veep candidate who might have helped McCain, at least in Pennsylvania, is Tom Ridge, also pro-choice. Sarah Palin may have “energized the base,” who one assumes would have voted for McCain anyway, but she drove away independents and conservative Dems. She probably didn’t lose the election for McCain by herself, but she sure as hell didn’t help him. I think a McCain-Lieberman or McCain-Ridge ticket would have been taken much more seriously by more voters.
But the GOP feels compelled to cater to the anti-reproductive rights movement, and so it gave away whatever chance it had to win the presidential election.
It’s time for politicians of both parties to tell the Fetus People to take their hate and misogyny and get lost.