Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

Giving “Permission” for Pro-Life Voters to Vote for Obama

Religious progressives have really increased the volume on their argument that a Democratic approach could reduce abortions, even though Democrats are pro-choice. (See Doug Kmiec; Matthew25, and a new coalition called
What’s this really about? When i speak to folks in progressive religious world, it’s clear they don’t actually think they’re going to fully convince people that Obama would be better at reducing the number of abortions. After all, this is a rather novel, new argument. Their goal is more limited: to give pro-life voters who are wrestling with an Obama vote “permission” to take the plunge. By raising the idea that there are other ways to reduce abortions besides overturning Roe v. Wade, they make the typical pro-life voter who wants to vote for Obama for other reasons feel less guilty about it.
Evidence that conservatives are worried that this approach might be working: a new email from the Family Research Council entitled, “Abortion Reduction or Pro-life Seduction?” Pointing (accurately) to the fact that Obama supports federal funding for abortion, FRC says , “Americans will get what they pay for-and that is the death of even more innocent, unborn children.”
A more anecdotal piece of evidence: I just ran into a women who said her mother, who is very pro-life and had been very conflicted about Obama, just mailed in her vote for the Democrat after hearing this “abortion reduction” pitch. It gave her “permission,” she said.

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non-metaphysical stephen

posted November 1, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Makes sense — after all, how much is a federal ban on abortion really going to help the situation? It would be nothing more than a whitewash that relieves us of our responsibility to change our culture by finding ways to remove the demand for abortions. With a law in place, we can point our fingers and feel justified when we don’t lift those fingers to help those in need.

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posted November 3, 2008 at 11:25 am

The Democrats have always been better at lowering abortion rates and especially teen pregnancy rates. Kids have to know how babies are made (need comprehensive sex education) in order to know how to prevent it. Preventing unwanted pregnancies will prevent abortions. Plus, if abortions become illegal, they will be performed in back alleys with dirty coathangers again, and women’s health will be put in a perilous position. If we really want to protect life, we also have to protect women’s lives, not just the lives of fetuses.

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posted March 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm

This isn’t really all that novel an argument; it’s just a refined version of Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal, and rare” line.

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