Friday, June 27, 2008

Something Productive

If Jim Wallis wanted to do something which would genuinely reduce abortions instead of concern trolling Democrats, he could take the lead against conservatives who push abstinence only education and try to deny people access to contraception.

As Frances Kissling wrote:

In his attempts to seek "common ground" with others, Wallis focuses on the "too many abortions" argument. But his common ground is very shaky. It does not, for example, include contraception. Wallis has said he is in favor of contraception, but after a fairly extensive review of his writing and transcripts of speeches and sermons, I can find no reference to contraception as a common-ground means of reducing abortion rates. Wallis' common ground is abstinence-focused sex education, adoption reform (with no specifics on what kind of reform he thinks would lead to a significant number of women choosing to give birth and then give up their babies for adoption), and better economic benefits and social support for pregnant women to encourage them to continue their pregnancies.

A lengthy Op-Ed published in the New York Times on Aug. 4 was the first indication of where Wallis would go in terms of abortion law. While he repeatedly has said that Democrats need not change their position on abortion, just the way they talk about it (comments echoed by party chairman Howard Dean), Wallis is now out of the closet. He supports "reasonable restrictions" on legal abortion. Which ones, and how many, are unclear. Does he support a cutoff of federal Medicaid funds for poor women's abortions? Second-trimester abortions only when the pregnancies are likely to result in severe and long-lasting health consequences for the women or in dead children? Mandated scripts that lie about fetal development and the health consequences of abortion? Restrictions on access for adolescents unless their parents give consent? Waiting periods that make it hard for working women to get to clinics the several times required to prove they have "thought through" their decisions? Every restriction currently on the books adversely affects the poor women he claims to care about so much.

We all want to reduce unplanned pregnancies. I don't personally care all that much about reducing abortions per se, but the latter follows pretty neatly from the former.