CHOICE AND THE...

CHOICE AND THE DEMS. As a writer, I know full well that it sucks to have your piece held. Months go by, and you can feel its urgency, and relevance, slowly slip away. So my heart really goes out to Melinda Henneberger, whose op-ed in The New York Times today was, quite clearly, written in late-2004. "[O]ur enduring reluctance to acknowledge the complexity of the abortion issue has only prolonged and hardened the debate," she writes. "Most Americans fall somewhere between the extremes of "never" and "no problem" when it comes to abortion."

What stunning, fresh insight! What brave, bold truth-telling! And this, it seems, is what will kill the Democratic Party. It is too full of extremists on the issue, too deeply committed to ensuring that considerations for a woman's health and well-being have a place in legislation. This is why the Democrats lose swing voters. "What would it take to win them back? Respect, for starters -- and not only on the night of the candidate forum on faith. As it turns out, you cannot call people extremists and expect them to vote for you. But real respect would require an understanding that what supporters of abortion rights genuinely see as a hard-earned freedom, opponents genuinely see as a self-inflicted wound and -- though I can feel some of you tensing as you read this -- a human rights issue comparable to slavery."

Henneberger should read her own writing. If someone believes choice comparable to slavery, they will not be placated by a tacit acceptance of the partial-birth case Gonzalez v. Carhart. They will want to end abortion. Pro-choice Democrats -- a group that does not include, among others, the Senate Majority Leader -- are actually much more respectful of pro-lifers than Ms. Henneberger. They, at least, take seriously pro-life convictions, and don't pretend that pandering around the issue's margins will prove distraction enough to obscure such a fundamental difference as exists between those who believe a woman's autonomy is effectively destroyed if the state can force her to serve as a reproductive vessel against her will, and those who believe the right to an abortion is a contemporary form of genocide.

--Ezra Klein

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