No Abortion Shift, No Need To Cater to Anti-Abortion Activists.

In his U.S. News and World Report column, Dan Gilgoff buys into the idea that President Obama and the Democratic Party should be mindful of voters who worry that Obama will "overreach on abortion rights," based on the new Pew poll out on abortion attitudes.

But that poll doesn't show any seismic shift in abortion attitudes, nor does it contain any warnings to Obama and the Democrats that they should be any less pro-reproductive rights. According to Pew:

Among people who know that Obama is pro-choice, a plurality (29% of the public overall) think that he will handle the issue about right. About one in- five (19%) worry that Obama will go too far in supporting abortion rights, while very few (4%) worry that he will not go far enough in supporting abortion rights.

Who are the people who are worried about this unspecified overreaching? Fifty-two percent of conservative Republicans, and only 19% of moderate Republicans, and only 18% of independents. So the Democrats should shift their agenda to satisfy the fantasies of conservative Republicans that Obama is some "radical" on abortion rights?

Gilgoff maintains that, although the very Pew poll he cites shows decreasing interest in abortion as a core issue, "The debate raging over abortion coverage in healthcare reform is an example of how the issue can threaten Obama's broader agenda." Perhaps, he suggests, White House and Congressional leaderships' meetings with anti-choice Rep. Bart Stupak show a willingness to cater to the party's pro-life caucus (although there's no evidence that the meetings produced any movement). As Adele Stan showed so deftly in a post about White House religious adviser Jim Wallis, it's not pro-choice advocates who are threatening health care reform with wrangling over abortion. It's some of the same anti-choice activists who Gilgoff says Obama needs to placate who can't be satisfied with any of number of restrictions on abortion coverage.

--Sarah Posner

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