Abortion Politics IV: The Crazy Left

The recent kerfuffle over the National Abortion Rights Action League’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama put the radically pro-choice organization at the center of the news. They were denounced by several pro-choice feminists, including Ellen Malcolm, the head of EMILY’s List, a group that seeks to elect pro-choice women to public office, saying the endorsement was "disrespectful" to Hillary Clinton. Why did NARAL make their decision now? Throughout the campaign season, women’s groups had been firmly backing Clinton’s bid. Once it became clear that Obama’s lead was insurmountable, NARAL undoubtedly thought it wise to get on board the winning bandwagon. The prospect of a Democratic nominee who is in no way beholden to the most archly pro-choice groups, who does not feel he has to take their phone calls or make their goals his top priority, is a fearsome scenario for an interest group that succeeds by manipulating the levers of power in Washington. "Looks like some higher ups at NARAL are trying to get jobs in the new administration," commented former congresswomen Pat Schroeder and Geraldine Ferraro in a joint letter. Several of their state affiliates rejected the national organization’s decision. A large part of their concern was with the effect the decision would have on donors. Special interest groups like NARAL take on a life of their own. They draw their financial backing from the most ideologically extreme members of the political class. Thus, their staffs have a vested interest in staking out the most aggressive positions, fighting with the most extreme tactics, fighting at the fringes not at the center. Their power wanes the second a nominee moves from the primaries to a general election, so they needed to cash their chips now. But, in this instance, the desire to get on the bandwagon touched a raw nerve among their donor base. New York state’s NARAL chapter said the endorsement was like "throwing a flaming spear into a tinderbox of raw emotion." NARAL’s fight is not Obama’s fight. Voters for whom a pro-abortion stance is the only issue are not about to vote for a Republican. And the group Obama most needs help from as he tries to unite the Democratic party are the more conservative, often Catholic, less affluent blue collar workers who backed Clinton in the primaries. That group does not share NARAL’s priorities to say the least. A thoughtful article in yesterday’s Washington Post Outlook section discussed the cultural conservatives whom Obama must win over, labeling them "Casey Democrats, the sobriquet derived from the name of the pro-life former Governor of Pennsylvania Bob Casey and his son who is now a Senator from the Keystone state." The leadership of NARAL, NOW and Emily’s List have no reason to be moderate on their issue. They have no reason to care about the center of the political spectrum. People who are genuinely ambivalent about abortion do not donate to these groups. But, most Americans are ambivalent about abortion and Obama should consider himself fortunate to have come this far without relying upon these extreme groups. Michael Sean Winters
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10 years 8 months ago
For many presidential election cycles I have held my nose and voted Republican since I am a pro-life voter. I consider life issues to be preeminent since all other Democrat quality of life issues are not relevant without life itself. Do not underestimate the value of pro-life issues to the average Republican voter. If the Democrats would show some pro-life backbone, they would win more elections.
10 years 8 months ago
I am surprised one gives so much importance to the pro-choice issue when the impact of the coming election will be pivoting on whether or not the tax cuts will continue increasing the gap between the haves and the have-nots. The pro-Choice issue has always been a smokescreen hiding more substantial issues of social and economic justice that influence in fact whether a woman will have enough money to keep a baby or whether she won't. Why don't people see that they are manipulated into looking at the peripheral rather than the central issues involving the social structures of sin?
10 years 8 months ago
I was struck by how many times in this post "The Moral Majority" or "The Catholic League" could be substituted for "NARAL" or "Emily's List," and Mr. Winters' observations would remain true.
10 years 8 months ago
The big dilemma for feminists today is what to choose : a) A woman who is a self-asserting feminist, but who didn't leave her man over sex, which is a big no-no on the left. b) A man whot totally supports the pro-choice lobby in its worst excesses. Obviously, the pro-choice feminists, who constitute the vast majority of feminists, would argue that the woman's ''power'' to have an abortion is surely more important than advancing the cause of women by electing the first ever female president. I find the reality of abortion to be terribly distressing, especially for women who are pressured and consent to having one. The poor babies ! I say babies because in many cases, there are no more legal limits to late-term abortions. The culture of death, as coined by John Paul II, is more than just anti-christian, it is also anti-marian. When I think of a mother loving her child to the very geatest extent, it reminds of those artful representations of the Theotokos, which depict the Mother of Our Lord gleaming with joy with her baby Jesus. That, in my view, is the complete antithesis of the phenomenon of abortion. It was announced some time ago that the Church was discontinuing the concept of limbo, arguing that it was a mere hypothesis. This can be a source of joy for many, because it means that the Lord has great mercy for those aborted babies and embryos, and that they might be in heaven with Him, a bit like martyrs. If the Church wishes to communicate some of its main concerns to politicians, there is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing up the issue of abortion, because it is also a public health issue. I think Obama could be more sensitized to this, since it is fair to say that pro-abortion feminists do not represent all women.
10 years 8 months ago
Abortion is a moral issue. Those of us who believe in a sanctity of life from the moment of conception should do everything in their abilities to help women distressed by unwanted pregnancies to carry and deliver their babies, and to provide for the born babies afterwards. They should work for numerous agencies that provide such help, donate money and pray in those intentions. However abortion, because an individual person has a choice of not doing it, is not a political issue. The law allowing for legal abortion does not force anybody to undergo abortion, and it is experimentally demonstrated in many countries in the world that legal prohibition of abortion significantly increases number of illegal procedures which are dangerous for women's health. Abortion has been manufactured into a political issue by both left and right extremists. Political issues are global, those that we do not have much influence over on an individual basis. I have no individual influence over the fact that a president starts a war, does not do anything about escalating poverty or lack of health insurance. I have no influence over the fact that my tax money is used for killing people in a politically motivated war, is not sufficiently used to help victims of natural disasters nor to introduce health care for every person. My main ability to have influence over these extremely important LIFE issues is mainly in electing trustworthy, compassionate, honest individuals into public offices. It is time for the Catholics to step away from a single issue of abortion as a factor deciding in the presidential elections, and make decisions based on the global pro-life (pro-health insurance, pro-peace, anti-war, anti-poverty, pro-environment) or anti-life (lack of health insurance, pro-poverty, willingness to start new wars and continue old ones) profiles of the presidential candidates. This change in the attitude is required for the true CHANGE in the country for all pro-life issues.


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