Dana and many others have noted that, despite claims by pro-lifers that they influenced the Democratic Party Platform Committee to include nods to their "abortion reduction" strategy, the platform has a strong pro-choice plank.
The pro-life contingent that has been pressing the Democratic Party to embrace "abortion reduction" now includes not just life-long Democrats but Republican Catholics and evangelicals who want to shift their focus away from overturning Roe v. Wade and toward, as they frame it, making abortion less frequent. In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, a group including the Rev. Jim Wallis of the evangelical group Sojourners, the Rev. Tony Campolo of the Party's platform committee, former Reagan administration official Doug Kmiec, and the Rev. Joel Hunter, who has described himself as "to the right of Attila the Hun," all lauded the new (or rather, not so new) platform language.
While they are unhappy that the platform still lacks language recognizing the "conscience" of pro-life Democrats, and would rather see the phrase "reduce the number of abortions" in the sentence, "We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions," they are lauding the Democratic platform and lambasting Republicans for failing to show that they care about life outside the womb. Electorally, that's not such a bad thing.
On the other hand, while the "abortion reduction" contingent and the pro-choice movement indeed can make some common cause on policy, aspects of the abortion reduction movement are at odds with the underlying principles of the pro-choice movement: full economic and social equality for women. The abortion reduction movement takes a basic feminist goal -- improving the economic lives of women -- and uses it not to make women fully equal in the economic world, but instead to make them mothers.
They are attempting to own policies the feminist movement and the Democratic Party have long advocated, such as increasing the minimum wage, providing affordable health care, day care, and family leave, by claiming that implementing them will cause economically struggling women to reconsider abortion when faced with an unintended pregnancy. Their rhetoric values women's ability to make babies over pushing for real economic equality.
When Wallis tells stories like the one he told on Tuesday, it's clear that he values women for their uteruses, not as full participants in economic and political life. He told the story of a woman who approached him at a book signing to tell him how glad she was she didn't have an abortion years ago because now her daughter is going to Harvard. That's wonderful, but what about a woman who could go to Harvard and experience all the attendant glories and achievements because she chose to have an abortion? Of course Wallis loves to tout instead what he calls "the Juno option," as if all sixteen year olds are physically and emotionally equipped to have babies and give them up for adoption, and should be valued as baby-making machines rather than complicated human beings undergoing an experience that Wallis has never and will never have to face.
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