Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Playing Against Type for Once

Let me just say that I found Hillary Clinton's rhetoric on abortion perfectly fine, except to the extent that she's justified the media and right created caricature of the Democratic party position on abortion (which is an important, but at least slightly secondary issue).

According to the Times:

"We can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women," Mrs. Clinton told the annual conference of the Family Planning Advocates of New York State. "The fact is that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place."

This is skillfull rhetoric. I'm sure abortion is a "tragic choice to many, many women," as long as the person making that judgment (that it's tragic) is the woman herself and not me, Hillary Clinton, Spongedob Stickypants, or Antonin Scalia. I also think it's a not-so-tragic but desired choice for many others. Reducing unwanted pregnancies is the best way to reduce abortion. All of these things are not especially controversial. I believe they're actually pretty much the stock positions of noted advocate of fetus-slaying, Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt.

I don't have a problem with people who don't like abortions. I have a problem with people who want to outlaw them. I have a bigger problem with people who want to restrict access to/education about contraception and the "morning after pill" and who want to outlaw abortion.

I have a huge problem with people who think that Democratic politicians need to declare that people who have abortions are moral failures.

I have no problem with people who don't like abortion. I have no problem with people who think that the number of abortions should be reduced by finding ways to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. I have no problem with people who think that those who have abortions have committed an evil act, as long as they don't demand that I feel the same way or aggressively try to shame those who have them.

As long as you don't believe that politicians or judges should be trying to stop legal abortions, there is no tension between your political beliefs and the beliefs of the mainstream of the Democratic party.

But, if you're a relatively informed voter who thinks the best way to reduce abortions -- especially abortions internationally, not just locally -- is to vote for the anti-contraception, abstinence-only teaching, global gag rule supporting, Antonin Scalia loving Bush administration, then frankly I don't give a shit what you think. I have no desire to reach out to you. That is, if you're relatively informed and you believe these things then I assume your "pro-life" position is motivated by something other than the simple desire to reduce abortions. The number of abortions went down under Clinton administration policies, and up under Bush-administration ones.

I question the value of "softening abortion rhetoric" as a political ploy, because as far as I can tell the rhetoric was always softened and playing into this game is just... playing into the game. But, aside from the framing issue there was nothing wrong with what Clinton said -- but more importantly, nor was there anything remarkable about it.