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Hullabaloo


Sunday, December 19, 2004

 
A Bold Proposition

Atrios continues to argue with some in our party that we Democrats should not turn abortion into a scarlet letter. He is so wrong. We need to get serious about winning by dolefully expressing regret and guilt for believing what we believe or we will be wandering in the lonely 49% wilderness forever. And, nowhere is it more important to show contrition and self-hatred than on the issue of abortion. It is, after all, icky.

But simply framing abortion as a shameful "right that ends in sorrow" rather than a "difficult decision that brings relief", is a fools game. And while the Democratic "orthodoxy" on abortion inherently allows for people who are personally opposed to abortion, like John Kerry, to run for national office as long as he doesn't advocate outlawing abortion entirely for others, everyone agrees that the Republicans are much less "orthodox" because they allow some politicians from liberal states run as pro-choicers to get elected even if they could never in a million years win the nomination of the Republican party for president. (I know that's a little bit strange, but it's one of those quirks in our system, kind of like the electoral college.) Therefore, to win it is logical that we must not only shed our orthodoxy and take the pro-life cause as our own, we must take it even further than the Republicans.

Here's my proposition:

Let's not be cowards and merely advocate for a culture of disgrace and dishonor for women who have abortions. I agree that it's important that they should be publicly humiliated and forced to admit that they have done something very, very bad. That's always healthy and people will respect us more if we do that. But,the other side will rightly retort that just because you feel guilty for something doesn't excuse it, right? So, let's get out ahead of an issue for once. Let's be really bold and call for total abolition and follow up with tough criminal penalities for any woman who has one.

This is where the GOP orthodoxy is weak. The pro-life position is that abortion is murder. But many pro-lifers also believe in exceptions for rape and incest. That makes no sense. If it is murder to abort a child in the womb because it is fully human and endowed with all the same rights as any other person, then it can't be right to make an exception and kill it simply because of the way it was conceived. Would we think it was ok to kill a one year old if we found out that it was the product of rape or incest? Of course not.

This position implies that the circumstances of conception or the lifelong emotional consequences for the woman bearing an unwanted child can be taken into consideration. Why shouldn't she simply take her rapist or her father's child to term and simply give it up for adoption? The fetus has inalienable rights. The woman should deal with that just the same as she should deal with giving up her fourth child for adoption because she can't afford another mouth to feed and her birth control failed. It's tough, but she'll just have to get over it.

And really, if abortion is murder, shouldn't the woman be criminally liable for murdering her own child? Why is it that pro-life advocates never insist on that and instead place the entire burden on the doctor? Would we accept that a woman who hired someone to murder her 6 month old was not criminally liable for that act? Of course not.

They say it's murder, but they have "exceptions." They want to make it a crime but don't want to make the perpetrator of that crime responsible. These people are practicing ... moral relativism.


If I didn't know better, I might think that Republicans secretly believe that ending an unwanted pregnancy is different from murder after all; that it isn't an absolute choice between right and wrong. Indeed, they seem to think that it is complicated by circumstances and morally nuanced. Certainly, the fact that they refuse to call women who have abortions "murderers" indicates that they think pregnant women are in a unique position in human experience making judgment by absolute legal standards difficult for society to accept.

And that is our opening, folks. Just as the foreign policy wonks think that we should outflank the neocons on foreign policy by fighting the GWOT with the ferver of a Christian crusader, I think we should simultaneously make a play for the fundamentalists who truly do believe that the woman is a murderer if she has an abortion. The stoning and burning crowd is ripe for the picking if we are only bold enough to do what is necessary to prove that we are sincere. Rove and pals won't be expecting it.

Then the media will call us the big tent party and we can run against the Republicans for being pro-choice, unpatriotic and soft on crime! Cool, huh?

Seriously, folks, if we can adopt this, the global crusade for democracy and the creationism curriculum into our platform I think we might just be able to finally get that crucial 2% that we need to win. And then we'll be able to get something done for the progressive cause --- like paying off our crippling debt with a combination of brutal spending cuts in social programs and tax increases on the middle class. (And there's always end it don't mend it on affirmative action and privatization of SS if we still need to triangulate.)





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