Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman


Dissecting the Democrats New Abortion Plank

posted by swaldman

I’ll give a more thoroughly reported response later but here are my first quick takes on the Democratic Party’s new draft platform on abortion and its political implications
1) The Lack of Moral Language — The key linguistic debate has been whether to “reduce the number of abortions” or “reduce the need for abortions.” Pro-life folks favored the former. Pro-choice folks favored the latter. The pro-choice folks won. In fact, the 2004 platform said abortion “should be safe, legal and rare” – language that’s casts abortion reduction as morally preferable, something this platform does not.
2) Abortion Reduction — The draft platform includes – for the first time – language supporting policies specifically designed to reduce the need for abortions: “The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.” We can therefore see the outlines of a pro-active position that might woo pro-life Catholics and evangelicals. Democrats can now say, you can support the Republican party which issues grand moralistic pronouncements but doesn’t take enough practical steps to reduce the number of abortions or you can support the Democrats who do take those steps. It is an open question, however, whether Obama will go that far, since the platform clearly avoided using any moral language casting abortion as a morally inferior choice.
3) Conscience Clause — There is no “conscience clause” acknowledging and respecting the diversity of opinion within the party on abortion. Pro-life Democrats had hoped for that.
4) Greater Inclusion — Pro-life religious liberals were included in the process like they haven’t been before. They’re thrilled with their participation and feel that the platform moved in the right direction as a result. In any event, given the party’s ambivalent attitude in the past toward pro-life Democrats, they view the inclusion itself as a big deal.
5) Government Funding – By supporting the right to abortion “regardless of ability to pay,” the platform retains its support for federal government support for abortion through Medicaid, the health care program for low income people. Many centrist Democrats have taken the position that abortion should be legal but the government shouldn’t subsidize it. The pro-choice community won on this one.
6) This isn’t over — After listening to a conference call of pro-life progressives, it’s clear that some of them will continue to press for improved language before and during the convention — and that they are hoping that Obama himself will go further in his own language. Specifically, they’re looking to see if obama uses moral language that it’s better to have fewer abortions than not.
All in all, I’d say that this platform does NOT do what was necessary to win substantial numbers of Catholics or moderate evangelicals. However, in combination with a strong personal statement from Obama about the moral necessity of reducing abortion, the party could make real headway. All eyes now turn to Obama’s performance at Saddleback Church later this week.



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ZachJonesIsHome

posted August 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm


It seems that Senator Obama is described as having one of the most extreme positions that one can find when it comes to the issue of abortion….Normally, I can understand a lawyer’s dancing on the head of a pin for the sake of not wanting to undermine a future legal argument or position. However, regarding Senator Obama, some other details give me pause and raise questions about whether his stated motivation(s) can be trusted.
Obama Would Evidently Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater found at:
http://zachjonesishome.wordpress.com/2008/08/02/obama-would-evidently-throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater/



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Paul, seeking wisdom

posted August 12, 2008 at 1:48 pm


What this platform DOES offer is the aid and support to those who choose to have a baby. This is something that the Republicans have not supported. They want to cut social services rather than aid the people who need support.
Why don’t you focus on the positives of the plank and speak on the language that was never included before? Why not encourage people to keep the children or help set up adoption clinics? Why don’t we offer pre- and post-natal care centers in our churches and community centers? Why don’t we offer more parenting classes and mentoring centers? These are all things that are mentioned in the plank that the Republicans have not endorsed. At least they don’t want to foot the bill for it. If the Churches and communities are compensated for their efforts there will be a greater offering of services available. This is how we can be able to reduce abortions.
Also, even though, as a Christian, I beleive in chasity I know that people wil have sex out of wedlock and will become envolved at very youg ages. Sex Education and prevention must be taught! Parents must become envolved and Mental health must be adressed. Look at those young ladies(?) who deliberly got pregnant in that Catholic community in Mass.? If someone had been able see it coming, maybe it could have been prevented. Children will do stupid things and it is up to the entire community to protect them from themselves, parents, pasters, teachers and friends.
Paul, Wholly for Chirst



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Alan Vanneman

posted August 12, 2008 at 2:38 pm


“the platform clearly avoided using any moral language casting abortion as a morally inferior choice.”
Perhaps that’s because many of us Democrats don’t think that women who choose to have abortions are “morally inferior.” Isn’t it nice being a guy?



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Cambel

posted August 12, 2008 at 2:47 pm


Paul, you wrote “What this platform DOES offer is the aid and support to those who choose to have a baby. This is something that the Republicans have not supported. They want to cut social services rather than aid the people who need support.”
_____________________________________________________________________
Paul, if they cannot afford to have a baby they should not be having one. The last thing a child needs is to be raised in poverty. It is that kind of irresponsibility that feuled the backlash against welfare under Clinton. Some needy people lost out because the program had become a support system for women having 7 children and not working. Lets not go down that road again or you can say hello to another GOP take-over of both houses.



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Mara

posted August 12, 2008 at 3:33 pm


“What this platform DOES offer is the aid and support to those who choose to have a baby.”
hence the lable “pro-CHOICE” and not Pro-ABORTION.



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Harold

posted August 12, 2008 at 3:37 pm


I have found comments from those who call themselves Pro-Life, when speaking of single women who become pregnant and who choose to keep their children rather than abort them, to be incredibly unappealing and very judgmental.
I have rarely if ever heard them praise an unwed mother publicly and more often, there is the whispering and gossiping about how this is a bad example or what a slut she was. Where were the Pro-Life people when Britney Spears young sister became pregnant and chose to keep her child? I would have thought that this would be the perfect time for them to show their support and care and to praise her for not having an abortion. They were missing in action though. And whenever I’ve been aware of an unwed woman becoming pregnant, I mostly hear nasty gossip, rather than the excitement that people show when the woman is married.
I think that these Pro-Lifers would more honestly be called Anti-Abortion, because I have never seen them show concern for the mother or the child post-birth. They seem to be concerned with a fetus only while it is in the mother’s womb, not the mother at all, and with punishing women for having sex and becoming pregnant. They really aren’t concerned with what Pro Life really means, and if they did support a position that was more all encompassing, including sex education, access to birth control, prenatal and postpartum care for mother and child, parenting classes, etc…..which show a concern and respect for the health and life of both the mother and the child, and if they shifted away from being judgmental and moralistic, and towards being more loving in the way Christ taught us to be, then maybe they’d make some progress towards reducing abortions. If women felt that they would be accepted and supported by society and not cast out by being pregnant out of wedlock, I think that we would see more of them choosing to have these children rather than aborting them.



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JoGirl

posted August 12, 2008 at 4:45 pm


“Paul, if they cannot afford to have a baby they should not be having one.”
I hear you, but consider the fact that the U.S. and Australia have worse parental leave laws than any other developed countries in the world. In fact, we have far worse parental leave laws than countries like the Sudan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Haiti, even good old China… you name it. The majority of developed countries also offer free government-sponsored childcare, which would be unheard of in the U.S.
Clearly, the U.S. isn’t pro-life (in the literal sense), pro-child or pro-family by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps the need for abortions would be reduced if having a child did not present such an overwhelming financial burden for average Americans.



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eastcoastlady

posted August 12, 2008 at 6:21 pm


Harold,
you go, guy.



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rlb1961

posted August 12, 2008 at 6:34 pm


“And whenever I’ve been aware of an unwed woman becoming pregnant, I mostly hear nasty gossip, rather than the excitement that people show when the woman is married.”
While gossip is wrong and un-Christian, I think it is understandable that people are not excited when an unwed woman becomes pregnant. We know that the best situation for any child, financially, emotionally and spiritually, is to be born into and raised by a mother and father. While it is immeasurably better for the woman to give life to her child rather than have it killed in the womb, in general a child born to an unwed woman is much more likely to suffer from poverty, to become sexually active at an early age, etc. We should support the option of adoption and do what we can to help women who choose to raise their children on their own. But I don’t think the fact that people don’t get excited when considering the difficulties both mother and child will face is evidence of the fact that they don’t care about both.
I also think many people here are mis-representing the pro-life movement. Most crisis pregnancy centers, adoption assistance centers, etc, are run by people involved in the pro-life movement. The biggest difference is that conservatives in the pro-life movement believe that such assistance should be provided by churches, community groups, and individuals, not by government. Jesus didn’t say, “Inasmuch as you voted to have your government to help the least of these My brethren…” He said, “Inasmuch as YOU have done it to the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me.”



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ds0490

posted August 12, 2008 at 7:05 pm


“The biggest difference is that conservatives in the pro-life movement believe that such assistance should be provided by churches, community groups, and individuals, not by government. Jesus didn’t say, “Inasmuch as you voted to have your government to help the least of these My brethren…” He said, “Inasmuch as YOU have done it to the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me.”"
Then why is it that so many conservatives favor the Faith Based Initiatives that would funnel money into these same churches? It would seem to me that if these pro-life Christians believed their own rhetoric, there would be a pro-life oriented crisis pregnancy center in every church.
Of course that would cost money, and it appears that money is more precious than life to many of these Christian conservatives.



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rlb1961

posted August 12, 2008 at 7:22 pm


“Of course that would cost money, and it appears that money is more precious than life to many of these Christian conservatives.”
Interesting that you say that, considering that every study on charitable giving performed in the past few years shows that conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives, give a higher percentage of their personal income to charitable causes than liberals, even Christian liberals. So it would appear that Christian conservatives put their own money where their mouths are – liberals seem to want to spend other people’s money to pay for their “charity”.



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LoveMakesAFamily

posted August 12, 2008 at 7:27 pm


Just had to comment on this:
“We know that the best situation for any child, financially, emotionally and spiritually, is to be born into and raised by a mother and father.”
We know nothing of the sort.
In fact, the few studies that have been done on the subject indicate that children of same-sex couples actually enjoy a better outcome, on average, than those of opposite-sex couples. (The reasons for that difference are myriad, but I credit the fact that some percentage of children born to opposite-sex, married adults are conceived “by accident,” while gay couples don’t have that issue.)
Following on that logic, making it easier for same-sex couples to adopt might reduce the need for abortions, and would also surely benefit those children who are already badly in need of loving homes.



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rlb1961

posted August 12, 2008 at 7:45 pm


Sorry, I looked for those studies, and while I found some that concluded that children of same sex couples experienced no worse an outcome than heterosexual couples, there were problems with the methodology (small sample size, non-random samples, etc). I found none that indicated a better outcome for same sex couples.
I stand by my statement.



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Kathleen Townsend

posted August 13, 2008 at 9:51 am


The DNC’s statement on abortion not only shows our party’s respect for pro-life Dems but challenges the Republican party to connect its rhetoric to results. For years, Rs have simply condemned Roe, criticized women, and curried favor with Catholic hierarchy…which is all male. But they made little effort to actually support women in their choice to have a child. Now, thanks to Doug Kmiec, Tony Campolo and others, our party has specifically acknowledged the need to make sure that pregnant women receive pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support and caring adoption programs.
The platform underscores the fact that a woman’s decision to have a child is not make in isolation but is connected to questions about many aspects of her life. By specifying that a women should have access to real help during pregnancy and after, the language reflects a significant part of the Catholic moral tradition of the common good…and the truth that the relationship that we have with one another can help us make good choices.
For years, Dems have pointed out that Democratic party policies..in fact help to reduce the number of abortions. Abortions were reduced under Bill Clinton and rose under George Bush. This new language by explicitly connecting the support to the issue of abortion helps to make that case.



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Richard Clark

posted August 13, 2008 at 10:16 am


American women should have the same rights to abortion, as most women in western European countries have.



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ds0490

posted August 13, 2008 at 1:42 pm


“Interesting that you say that, considering that every study on charitable giving performed in the past few years shows that conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives, give a higher percentage of their personal income to charitable causes than liberals, even Christian liberals.”
Funny…while you gloat about that, think on this. Those same studies show that Christians are giving less now than they were during the Great Depression.
http://www.generousgiving.org/page.asp?sec=4&page=311
“Then and Now: Giving by North American churchgoers was higher during the Great Depression (3.3 percent of per capita income in 1933) than it was after a half-century of unprecedented prosperity (2.5 percent in 2004).”
I thought the standard for comparison for conservatives was Jesus Christ, not the liberal church.



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just sayin

posted August 13, 2008 at 2:08 pm


And from the same article posted by ds0490 comes this tidbit:
Among evangelicals, almost 90 cents of every donated dollar goes to their churches.
I guess that doesn’t leave much left for cancer research or other charities with real payoffs to the whole of humanity. But boy can those churches pump out their propaganda.



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Rationalist

posted August 13, 2008 at 6:07 pm


The really odd thing about “religious” peoples objection to abortion is how little faith these people seem to have in their God. Don’t these people believe in heaven/salvation? It seems to me that anyone who had any faith in Divine Justice, would believe that a loving and forgiving God would never condemn any soul that was truly innocent and pure. Therefore any human that never got a chance to live (i.e. was aborted) would either go straight to heaven, OR would be given another chance at life in another body at some point. In either case the baby’s soul is not harmed or doomed.
On the other hand, if God is not good/loving/caring then they might have something to worry about. I am not an organized religion adherant, but I have faith that God will treat these souls Justly



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hdduc

posted August 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm


Safe sex with both partners taking resposibility , would prevent the need for unecessary procedures. Too many use abortion as birth control rather than acting responsibly. I feel woman should have the right to choose but they need to remember they are choosing for three, themselves the father, and the child. Both sides must respect the opinions of others.



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eastcoastlady

posted August 15, 2008 at 7:04 pm


First of all, I am very pleasantly surprised at the overall respectful tone of these comments.
Now. There are many things to consider.
1. Birth control fails.
2. Not everyone who wants an abortion is an unwed mother.
3. Not everyone who wants an abortion is a teen mother.
4. Not every abortion is the result of an unplanned pregnancy.
5. The current Republican, conservative administration has tried to enforce abstinence-based teachings in school as a method to reduce pregnancy. Good luck with that. I guess it’s been about as successful as Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” (to drugs) campaign.
I disagree with another blog I read here, I think it was the Jim Wallis Sojourners link, that talked of abortion as a “moral” choice. I don’t like that term, as it could easily imply that a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy is potentially immoral.
Maybe sometimes people think it’s indeed the moral choice to end the pregnancy.
I cannot imagine a soul who supports a woman’s right to choose as also not wishing that there could be fewer abortions, whatever the reason. No one wants more abortions. However, it’s the proverbial slippery slope we risk falling down if we decide which abortions are okay and which are not. This is not to say, either, that abortion-on-demand in the eigth month should be as easy to get as an ice cream cone.
I just wish people would appreciate that most times, abortion is a last-choice choice (yes, I meant to repeat the word). However, I believe deeply it’s an intensely personal choice and should be between the woman and her health care provider (and, in the best of circumstances, her family/partner).



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pagansister

posted August 17, 2008 at 10:46 pm


Very well said, ecl. I agree with all of your post!



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stephen

posted August 27, 2008 at 5:29 am


Many people passionate for abortion on demand believe that abortion actually helps women when, in reality, it hurts women profoundly.
They present abortion as the cure-all solution for unplanned pregnancy, but too many women find that their problems have only just begun after they have had an abortion.
Women who have had an abortion can experience feelings of grief, guilt, anger, shame, betrayal, regret, helplessness, and low self worth—a condition called post abortion distress.
Womens’ stories on the website “Abortion Concern” confirm this, and the persistent complaint of not being able to forgive oneself for aborting one’s child.
One woman said that since her abortion, “Psychologically, emotionally and physically I am a wreck!” She is plagued by constant abdominal pains that defy diagnosis, panic attacks which prevent her from traveling, and again the heart wrenching inability to forgive herself:
” Although I know that I’m truly forgiven by God, I cannot seem to forgive myself.”
The truth about abortion on demand is that many times it is not even the pregnant woman’s choice, rather she is forced into abortion at the demand of her bullying boyfriend, husband, or parents.
It’s not the great cure-all solution for her problem, but theirs .
A women says, “I was 25 weeks pregnant when my parents and the baby’s father forced me into an unwanted abortion. I named the baby Angel, since I loved her very much, and while she was in my womb I got to know her very well. I miss her dearly. I only hope one day God will forgive me.”
It should be no surprise then that women who have had an abortion statistically suffer an abnormally high rate of drug and alcohol abuse and suicide.
The PA Pro-life Federation calls Barrack Obama the most pro abortion presidential candidate ever.
John McCain, however, has consistently sought to protect the unborn, and in so doing, women vulnerable to abortion on demand.
Your vote could literally save the lives of millions of unborn children, and prevent the anguish that abortion on demand inflicts on countless women.



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