Revolution #66, October 22, 2006


First in a series

You…and the Democrats

On the Right to Abortion


...believe that women have the right to have an abortion, and you are horrified by the moves to restrict and eventually outlaw abortion in this country. You’re right. Currently, women face often impossible and humiliating restrictions on abortions, and have a whole trip of guilt and shame laid on them if they don’t accept that their role in life is to be baby machines producing children for a man. And the legal right to abortion hangs by a thread: South Dakota will be voting in November to outlaw abortion; if the law passes, it would almost certainly be challenged to the Supreme Court, which Bush has been blatantly stacking with anti-abortion judges who went essentially unchallenged by the Senate Democrats. Eighteen states have “trigger” laws, designed to make abortion illegal the very second that the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Abortion rights need passionate defenders, now more than ever.You think that maybe the Democrats “aren’t perfect” on this question, you’re hoping that they will fight against these moves and defend women’s lives and their very right to exist as human beings. But look again…

The leadership and power-brokers in the Democratic Party…

...have not only refused to stand up and pledge to fight for abortion to be legal (never mind expanding access)—they have, in very important ways, facilitated the assault on abortion.

Hillary Clinton’s January 2005 speech, hailed by many pro-choice advocates as “nuanced” and “mature,” called abortion “a tragic choice” and proclaimed “respect” for those who want to completely outlaw abortion—while trying to reassure her audience that such people were “the fringe” of the anti-abortion movement, and that most people who were opposed to abortion were willing to permit exceptions for rape or incest. Take a look at the logic here: all of a sudden, a position that the vast majority of abortions should be illegal (only about 5% of abortions are known to be a result of rape or incest) becomes the reasonable position, compared to this “fringe”! And the logic that pregnancy is punishment for freely engaging in sex is accepted and, in fact, advocated, when she stated that abortion should become “the choice guaranteed under our constitution [that] either does not ever have to be exercised or only in very rare circumstances.” (emphasis added)

Once you accept the logic that abortion is a “tragedy” and that the state has an interest in preventing it, then you are not far away from the idea that the state should use coercion to prevent it—by making abortion harder and harder to get, and eventually illegal. This outlook, promoted by Hillary Clinton, serves and promotes the outlook that women’s role in life is to be breeders of children. And it leads to a society where women are forced to have babies that they don’t want—which makes them nothing more than slaves.

In Pennsylvania, reactionary Republican Senator Rick Santorum is infamous for equating homosexuality with bestiality, and wants to ban abortion. In picking an opponent to run against Santorum, the leadership of the Democratic Party axed pro-choice candidate, Barbara Hafer—she reported that the governor of Pennsylvania himself asked her to step aside. The Party leaders threw their weight behind an anti-abortion Democrat—Bob Casey.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was quoted in the New Yorker explaining that the Democrats had to run an anti-abortion candidate for Senate in order to stop “the hard right” from running America, and that “We can’t afford to play games anymore.”

So, the logic goes, stop the right by adopting a key plank of their agenda - banning abortion!

How much sense does that make?
You cannot “defend” the right to abortion, or any other basic rights, behind a program like this.

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