FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Slow Dancing with Death: Barack Obama’s Democrats Embrace Abortion Extremism
This is, as the alcoholics refer to it, a moment of clarity. From now on, Barack Obama’s Democrats cannot complain when we refer to them as “pro-abortion.”
Even as Barack Obama claims to welcome a position of moderation on the difficult moral question of abortion, the Democratic Party has moved today under his leadership to fully embrace the Culture of Death. The newly announced Democratic Platform has tossed the old language of “safe, legal, and rare” over the side, finally rejecting the idea that abortion is a social ill.
No longer do Democrats ask that “women not have abortions unless they absolutely must.” They are reclaiming the moral imperative for the goodness of destruction. And they will not be ashamed to demand what is rightfully theirs.
For years, the merchants of abortion have struggled with the dichotomy of their political circumstance. While triumphant at the Supreme Court level, the pro-abortion movement has had difficulty convincing enough people that being “pro-abortion” is not a bad thing…in fact, many of them argue, that it has social benefits, decreasing the number of unwanted pregnancies, decreasing poverty, and perhaps, as the Freakonomics folks argued, decreasing crime.
Slate’s Will Saletan – himself a pro-choice author who argues in his book Bearing Right that conservatives have “won” the abortion wars by establishing in the minds of the public that 1) abortion is a social ill that should be avoided, and 2) no government or taxpayer funds should therefore go to support it – has confronted this split personality on more than one occasion:
Friday morning, leaders of pro-choice and feminist groups gathered at the Center for American Progress to debate the movement’s future. One of the panelists reported that the latest annual tally of abortions in this country was 1.295 million. The most recent comparative numbers, detailed in an article I brought to the meeting, indicated that our abortion rate exceeds that of every Western European nation. “Raise your hand if you think that number is too high,” the conference moderator told the 50 people in the room.
I saw one hand go up. The woman next to me said she saw another. The two hand-raisers used to work for pro-choice groups but no longer do.
These leaders of the pro-abortion movement cannot accept, as most of America and Saletan do, that the act of abortion be considered “bad” – a necessary evil, in other words. They recoil when he uses the word, and react as strongly to the idea of “responsibility.”
I knew I’d get flak for using the word “bad.” But I was amazed at the group’s reaction to the word “responsibility,” which was the subject of the next panel. “Responsibility is to me a code word that has a lot of racial and class … implications,” said one participant. “I don’t like the word ‘responsibility,’ ” said another. “I don’t want to talk about responsibility unless we’re talking about the government taking responsibility,” said a third. Hoping to bring the discussion back to earth, the moderator suggested, “Is there a way for us to reclaim the idea of responsibility?” The answer was a chorus of rejection, punctuated by a “No way!” She retreated apologetically.
The new Democratic Platform is a firm reclaiming of the idea that abortion cannot be “bad,” that it never is anything but good and right and responsible. And in taking this step, Barack Obama’s Democrats have embraced an idea not just at odds with everything we know to be morally right, but at odds with what the rising generation of Americans believe to be morally right.
The Wall Street Journal headline on May 4, 2006 read: “Support for Roe v. Wade Hits New Low, Poll Shows.” The article details the latest findings with medical detachment:
“U.S. support for Roe v. Wade is at its lowest level in decades, according to a new Harris poll…The latest telephone survey of 1,016 adults indicates Roe v. Wade is supported by a slim 49% to 47% plurality, compared with 52% who favored the decision in 2005 and 57% in 1998…40% of those polled favor laws that would make it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion, while another 40% say no change should be made to existing abortion laws, and 15% favor laws that would make it easier to get an abortion.”
According to Harris, the percentage of Americans who support abortion on demand—that is, the current law, which gives the right to obtain an abortion under any circumstance—has remained at a steady 24% for the past decade. That is the plateau of support that the abortion defenders turn to – and it is likely to be the only portion that will support the idea that abortion is a moral good.
The key to this growing sentiment against abortion on demand is the changing attitudes of young people, who view abortion not as a right to defend, but as a nagging socially disturbing activity, a relic of the days before the pill. In 2003, a poll by CBS News and the New York Times found that Americans between 18 and 29 had drastically decreased their support for the general availability of abortion from the respondents a decade earlier—a margin that fell from 48% to 39%. And a UCLA study of college freshman at 437 universities found a similar dropoff—54% of the teenagers supported legalized abortion, versus 67% in 1993.
In April of 2007, the Polling Company released a comprehensive survey which found that, given a set of six different options—“abortion should be illegal, illegal with an exception for the life of the mother, illegal with that exception and an exception for rape and incest, legal for any reason in the first trimester, legal for any reason in the first and second trimester, and legal for any reason throughout pregnancy”—a full 54 percent choose the three generally pro-life options, and 41 percent the three pro-choice ones. A mere 12 percent supported the current legal status, the most extreme position. The results are not surprising—in fact, they are virtually identical to those of a Wirthlin poll from November 2004. But there was something more: Young adults (18-34), and especially young women, were more likely than any of the other demographic groups to choose the pro-life options.
Even Hollywood is getting into the new anti-abortion rhythm – films like Juno and Knocked Up reject the decision for abortion – not ought of a deeply held moral sentiment, but out of the basic, ingrained belief that the decision for death is wrong. We’ve come a long way from Fast Times at Ridgmont High. These movies aren’t pro-life because of faith – they’re pro-life because being pro-death is so 1973.
Taken together, the trend is a shocking one – or, as the Times described it in their 2003 headline: “Surprise, Mom – I’m Anti-Abortion.”
In 2004, Liza Mundy described the difficulty of responding to a Newsweek article on new pregnancy technology, acknowledging that “[a]n atmosphere in which pregnant women happily scrapbook those early ultrasounds—have created a real image problem for the pro-choice movement.”
As Kirsten Moore, the president of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, told Mundy: the piece “kind of prompted us to realize, oh my God, our movement’s messages suck.”
“Consultants were called in, who urged abortion rights groups to ‘reframe the debate’ and ‘take back’ words like ‘baby’ and ‘mother.’”
But paid consultants can do little to change the out-of-touch nature of the pro-choice movement, and “reclaiming” words is very difficult when there was never any real ownership of them. Through foolishness, abrasive tactics, and a message that is increasingly weakened by the expansion of scientific knowledge, the abortion marketers are losing the next generation of American voters.
Essentially, a plurality of Americans now hold the Bob Dole position – that abortion in the case of rape, incest, deformity, or risks to the life of the mother ought to be protected, and that abortion rights as they currently stand are far too liberal. This is a position that is borne out by the polling data, which Ramesh Ponnuru describes here:
Twice in three days—in Slate and the New York Times —I have run across the claim that 75 percent of the public favors legal abortion. That seems incredibly high. The source for the Times claim, and the apparent source for Slate too, is a CBS/NYT poll that is currently at the top of the Polling Report’s abortion page. The question asked is whether abortion should be “generally available,” “available. . . under stricter limits,” or “not permitted.” The latest results: 39, 37, and 21. You can spin that to mean that 76 percent of the public thinks that abortion should be “available,” or that 58 percent of the public wants “stricter limits.” Or you can conclude that the poll is not terribly well designed.
More on the numbers here. The only way the abortion proponents can achieve a lasting political majority is by embracing the “safe, legal, and rare” triumvirate – by convincing enough people in that 37 percentile who believe abortion to be nasty but necessary in cases of rape and incest to go along with the idea that it ought to be an unlimited legal right. They have done this for most of the past two decades.
Now, Barack Obama’s Democrats are rejecting this idea and embracing the zealotry of their most pro-abortion constituency. They affirm the goodness, the rightness of their destruction. They insist: “We deserve to kill our babies without being ashamed – you will not just tolerate our decision as legally protected; you will accept it as morally right.”
The Brody File is told that people like Pastor Joel Hunter, (registered Republican) Jim Wallis, (President of Sojourners) Pastor Tony Campolo and conservative Catholic legal scholar Doug Kmiec all helped in the drafting of this new language. The Obama campaign has obviously been involved quite a bit too.
It’s a fitting cast, of course. Last night, in an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, former Reagan appointee Prof. Kmiec reiterated his belief that Obama is a candidate who will emulate the Gipper (?) in reaching out to all political sides on the issues, and finding “common ground” with those who do not share his views.
Kmiec, the most prominent of the apparently mythical Obamacons, has infamously argued that Obama is secretly open to the pro-life viewpoint, that he is a moderate on the issue – even as outlets like the New Republic advance the bizarre theory that John McCain is a “pro-life zealot.” Of course, when Doug Kmiec speaks to Barack Obama about abortion and finds common ground, it appears that Obama primarily leans on the common ground that both of the people in the conversation adore him.
Indeed, it has become clear in recent weeks that it was Obama who lied repeatedly about the most important votes he’s ever made on the abortion issue, votes that put him in the most extreme camp of all: favoring the abandonment and death of born victims who survive the horrors of abortion and emerge from the womb alive.
Obama’s cover story had been that the bill did not include protections to prevent the anti-infanticide measure, targeted at an Illinois hospital (named, in one of those little ironies which make your heart break, Christ Hospital) which was repeatedly engaging in the activity, from affecting legally protected abortions. But in fact, the bill DID include this protection. Obama voted for them, and they were added to the measure by a unanimous vote in committee, mere minutes before he voted against passage and killed the bill to defend the young, helpless survivors of their mother’s attempts at destruction.
Documents obtained by NRLC now demonstrate conclusively that Obama’s entire defense is based on a brazen factual misrepresentation.
The documents prove that in March 2003, state Senator Obama, then the chairman of the Illinois state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, presided over a committee meeting in which the “neutrality clause” (copied verbatim from the federal bill) was added to the state BAIPA, with Obama voting in support of adding the revision. Yet, immediately afterwards, Obama led the committee Democrats in voting against the amended bill, and it was killed, 6-4.
…In the record of the vote taking on March 12, 2003, the amendment was adopted unanimously by Chairman Obama’s HHS subcommittee. That added the neutrality clause to the bill — which then went down to defeat on a party-line 6-4 vote, with Obama voting against protecting infants born alive during abortions.
They have a Comfort Room in Christ Hospital, where you can say your goodbyes to all those inconvenient lives. I’ve stood in a Comfort Room like it before – other hospitals have them as well. One wonders if, now that abortion is declared by The One’s Own Disciples as a social good, there will be any need for such a room. The whole of society will supply it, instead.
There is no sound in the Comfort Room. It is a deafening sort of quiet. It is sterile. There is a scent of chemicals. Time hangs suspended. There is no glimpse, however brief, of the world as it might have been – no, there are no small footsteps in the hall – if all the broken, fragile lives snuffed out in this room of quiet death had lived to see the sun.
It is a room of nothingness, filled with the silence of the life not lived, and whispers of the breath not taken.
Barack Obama’s Democrats will no longer be silent about their mission to make America one vast Comfort Room. Abortion is a moral good that you must respect. And they will not be ashamed to demand what is rightfully theirs.