I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again: we Dems will never have a firm handshake with a large cross-section of the American People(tm) until we at least reframe the abortion debate. A most frank and much-needed dose of advice came in the May 29 New Yorker from one Winston Simpson, a hog farmer from Missouri:
Simpson described himself as a loyal Democrat...”I’m even pro-choice--that’s how much of a Democrat I am,” he said. He came to that position, he explained, through his knowledge of animal husbandry. “If you’ve ever seen a young heifer get bred too soon, you know what a fiasco that is, which is why I think teen-agers should have access to abortion. But I’m out of the mainstream on this.” He continued, “I always tell people who are running for office that if they want to get elected in Missouri, when someone asks them for their feelings about Roe v. Wade don’t give some long scientific talk. Just say, ‘I’m against abortion’ and move on quick.” [emphasis mine]
If only we could. The author of this interview, Jeffrey Goldberg, goes into more detail regarding reframing the abortion debate on the New Yorker’s website:
Part of the Reagan revolution was getting people to change how they self-identified. Do you think that’s possible for liberals now?
Of course it’s possible, if the Democrats learn how to talk to people. Here’s a perfect example: abortion. Many moderate Democrats are looking at the way they talk to the country about abortion. What we see in a lot of candidates and at a lot of Democratic think tanks is that they’re all pro-choice, pro-Roe v. Wade, but they’re reframing the issue to emphasize not choice and individual rights but abortion reduction.
A recognition that an abortion represents a failure of one sort or the other.
That is not the belief of the hard-core activist pro-choice community. But polls have shown two interesting things: a majority of Americans are pro-choice, and a majority of Americans also see abortion as a moral problem. The Democrats can reach all these people if they show that they, too, believe in this pair of seemingly contradictory ideas. They’re not that contradictory.
Will abortion always be harder for the Democrats than something like Iraq, because of the deeply ingrained, heartfelt feelings involved?
Americans have very heartfelt feelings about national security, too. The way the Democrats can win on national security is to separate Iraq from the larger picture—or to use Iraq, do a kind of Karl Rove jujitsu, if you will, and say that the President has actually weakened our national security by invading Iraq.
I think we Democrats can doe a Karl Rove jujitsu on abortion, too. Here's how:
And while you’re reading this (thanks, btw) please keep in mind that I am a mother of three who has accepted Jesus Christ into her heart, yadda yadda yadda. I've also lived in Alabama for ten years. Here's the talking points:
1. Christian women get abortions. Plenty of them.
Never in pro-life literature does it talk about the large quantity, by some estimates over 20%, of abortions performed on born again Christian women. That article mentions the amazing story of a girl protesting at a clinic the day after her abortion. Then there's that old joke about the three times abortion is okay are "rape, life of the mother, and me."
There are actually two epidemics among women of the born-again persuasion: unwanted pregnancy and eating disorders. Both are based on ignorance, shame, and an self-repressed standard of womanhood that has very little basis in reality.
I’m repeating myself here, but doctors I talk to in Alabama say that the sexual blinders put upon young women in the Alabama Baptist Convention is a serious detriment to their health. They have sex anyway, and they have no idea how easy it is to get pregnant. Honeys, as far as God is concerned, the whole point of sex is to get pregnant.
I remember the time before my third child was conceived. Mr. Blue Gal and I talked about having a third child, and I thought to myself, “Hey, I’m forty years old, I’ve got a history of infertility, I’ll just leave it up to God.“ I’m never leaving it up to God again. God loves babies!
No matter what your pastor says, God/mother nature/the reproductive impulse of the universe, does not care if you are married or not.
It may truly alienate the very voters we are trying to persuade, but the “what if it was your daughter?” question should in some subtle way be brought to the table. Or perhaps not so subtle...after all, what would Karl Rove do? I can imagine the TV spot...a shot of nice white people praying in church, and the voiceover says, "If you're praying for the victims of Roe v. Wade, [dramatic pause, pan over to a weeping blonde pretty lass] don't forget the one in the next pew..."
2. The religious right ground forces have been completely hoodwinked by their leadership on the abortion issue.
The Republican leadership, except for some few true-believers, really has no interest in resolving the abortion issue. Hell, even Laura Bush wants to re-frame the issue, and has said so for years, so therefore no one is allowed to ask her anymore.
The same desire for impasse on abortion could be said of the Planned Parenthood/pro-choice contingency, but I would argue that the Democratic leadership have more cred in terms of wanting a firm, eternal committment to choice, than the Republicans do of overturning Roe. The abortion issue is the biggest cash cow the Religious Right has on their farm, folks.
I’m convinced that a lot of the true believers, those average born-again church goers are feeling quite betrayed already. Those “little people” who donated money over the years to the Christian Coalition specifically to fight lottery proposals in the South are just a little pissed off at Ralph Reed.
Somehow money laundering of Indian casino money is not seen as the Christian thing to do. (Bless his heart.)
We need to point out just what is at stake here, and call the pro-life leadership on this. If you’re worried this will lead them to push harder against Roe, so what? That will wake up those voters who think we don’t need to worry about Roe. We do. I think it’s really important to blow the lid off of how much money is being donated to pro-life organizations and just how much of that money is being spent on so-called administrative costs. This article complains that upwards of 80% of money raised for these crusades goes to professional telemarketers running the campaigns. Who owns them? I wanna know. If this information is not publicly available, just make it up. Again, what would Karl do?
Oh, I’m just kidding.
The thing to do is to raise the question, again and again and again, so that these organizations and mega-churches are put on the defensive. Either they have to release information on fund-raising and how it is being spent, or they will see a drop in their fundraising due to the questions being raised.
See? Betcha Karl’s eating his heart out now...
3. Nevermind abortion. We need to re-frame the issue of accidental pregnancy as a high-priority public health concern.
Yes, libs, we’ll call it “women’s reproductive health” when we’re at the 92nd Street Y, okay? In Missouri, we’re gonna call it accidental pregnancy. NOT “unwanted pregnancy,” which conjures up images of hard-hearted baby-hating prostitutes aborting every other month. Every third person you meet was “an accident,” if their parents were perfectly honest. And every parent of a fifteen-year-old girl counts that accident as their worst nightmare, if THEY are perfectly honest. Publish a cost comparison between flying to that lovely Indian reservation in South Dakota versus flying to Scandinavia for an abortion. Put it in a chart for USA Today, so those Christians who pretend they can read the Bible can read this, and figger out that when Sissy forgets to take her pill, we don‘t wanna hafta learn how to say “take care of it” in Norwegian.
But I digress. I want a national
Memo to Blue Cross/Blue Shield: Remember how Bill Clinton MADE you pay to keep C-section patients in the hospital for the medically-recommended three days? You are gonna fuckin’ pay for contraception, because using contraception is not a “lifestyle,” it’s a part of life. We value your cooperation. Thank you.