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January 29, 2005

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Ambrose

I am wondering how much of this is "testing the waters" to see how far the Democrats can go without kowtowing (spelling?) to the pro-abortion segment. Maybe they are trying to see if that is really their base?

Cornelius

Amy - you hit the nail's scabrous head on that one. Even permitting the immorality of abortion to serve as a Democratic 'big tent' is a perilous tactic for those Dems that want to keep abortion legal. After all, if we can all agree on abortion's immorality because it destroy's an innocent's life (what other reason could there be?), then we're only a hair's breadth away from further restricting and eventually outlawing the abominable act.

Donald R. McClarey

You are correct Amy. From a pro-abort position this is dangerous territory. The pro-aborts know this in their hearts and that is why they have usually refuse to debate the issue except in terms of "coat hangers" and "pro-life is a lie, you don't care if women die" sloagans. Start admitting that abortion is a tragedy and the debate is conceded. The pro-aborts are eerily like the pro-slavery forces in the nineteenth century, the last thing that they wanted was to debate the issue. Congress had a gag rule for several years which prevented the introduction of any anti-slavery petitions, several slave states had laws banning abolitionist propaganda. Let us hope that Mrs. Clinton will do to the pro-abort cause what her husband did to the Democrat party.

Paul

You are correct Donald.Pro-Abortionists fear facing the stark moral choice.I once wieghed into a liberal blog which had a thread concerning the "safe legal and rare" aspect.After reading numerous contributions I presented the following " The denial of personhood is the standard arguement to justify such acts.(ie. Abortion,Euthanasia )It usually proceeds from "they are not like us,therefore they are less than us,therefore they are not fully human".This has been the justification for most of the wars,crimes and atrocities of history.It is the essence of racism and the cornerstone of the gas chamber."The silence following this contribution was deafening (apart from one who was at least honest enough to state that she did not believe in "the concept of the unborn".

Rich Leonardi

Amy,

For three and a half years, commentators have asked "did 9/11 change anything?" I think the answer is that a decisive section of the American public simply won't allow fiendish politicians like Ms. Clinton and Mr. Kerry to get away with talking one way and voting another.

Patrick O'Hannigan

Perhaps Hillary actually believes that there is a viable "third way" on this issue, not least because her philandering husband once made a name for himself as a master of "triangulation." But you are right and she is wrong. As almost every pro-life commentator points out after awhile, there is no other "right" we're as ashamed to exercise as the "right" to kill the unborn. Should freedom of assembly be "safe, legal, and rare?" The question answers itself.

Emily

I have to disagree. The powerful emotional appeal of Mrs. Clinton's approach comes when she says that for many women, abortion was sad, even a tragedy.

43% of American women have had one or more abortions by the time they reach age 45.

David Reardon of the pro-life Elliot Institute has been begging pro-life Republican (and Democratic) politicians these last few years to use words like this on the stump--to take a pro-woman/pro-life perspective. He has specifically urged the use of the word "tragedy" since it so closely conforms to how most post-abortive women view their experience (some of us as a tragic necessity and some of us, like me, as a tragic mistake).

I will never vote for Mrs. Clinton. However, even though I suspect that her use of this rhetoric is deeply cynical, I couldn't help feel ... a sense of validation when she, as a leading politician, acknowledged part of how I feel.

Imagine, then, how the other 43% of American women who have had an abortion felt when they heard that.

Mrs. Clinton's use of this rhetoric is brilliant. Amy, you are absolutely right that people who delve into the moral questions raised (if it's a tragedy...just exactly why is that?) will reach your conclusion.

But most voters don't vote on reasoned moral conclusions. They vote on emotional appeal, and what she said is very emotionally appealing.

I strongly urge pro-life advocates to get a copy of the 2004 publication, "Reversing the Gender Gap", from the Elliot Institute. Pro-life politicians can successfully and compassionately address the concerns of post-abortive women without compromising their prolife positions. Unless they start doing this, and using language that shows that they know and care about post-abortive women, the field is open to cynical pro-choice politicians to pull at the heart of those who have made this tragic choice.

Gerard E.

Michele Cottle- and our very able and astute friend Rich Leonardi- both understand the 'turn-off' factor among 'red-staters' against Hillary and the Democratic Establishment. Particularly her clumsy attempt at triangulation regarding abortion this week. Which she quickly abandoned a few days later in another speech, going back to Playing To The Base. The 'red-staters' aren't buying what Hillary & Co. offer- particularly on something as sensitive and vital as abortion. Jim Wallis is behaving like many of our Catholic bishops- seeking to win their favor, getting the back of the hand in the process. And both over the same core issue. When pro-life demonstrators double the number of those who counter them- in, of all places, San Francisco, it's abundantly clear that the pro-choice movement's best days are behind. Amy, you noted this matter a few days ago in coaching us- Challenge them. Allow an abortion to be shown on cable teevee. Interview women who suffer from the acute trauma often accompanying the sacrifice of an unborn baby in this way. Bring their own medical evidence- not the shopworn rhetoric of the 1970s. Let's see who truly has the best interests of the mothers and children at heart. 'Cause it sure isn't a woman who wants to be President of the United States more than her next breath. And will say and do anything to get that job.

Mark Windsor

I wonder if Sullivan might have another reason for supporting Hillary...

eadfrith

Since the election, I've heard dozens and maybe hundreds of Democratic politicians and pundits discussing how their party needs to broaden its appeal to religious voters. The answer was almost always the same: Change the rhetoric. Don't change the positions, don't change the values, but change the rhetoric. The fatal assumption that the Democrats make is that they assume religious conservatives are stupid. Stupid enough to fall for empty rhetoric. Stupid enough to listen to Howard Dean when he lectures them, tells them what Christianity is really about (the answer, apparently, is the welfare state. that and tolerance). They think that they are going to win the votes of old daily-Mass, Rosary-society ladies and evangelicals who have read the Bible fifty times cover to cover by dropping a few out-of-context quotes from the Book of Matthew and telling them that they were bad Christians for voting Republican. And that condescension is what is killing them. Hillary has changed her rhetoric because she thinks that religious conservatives are stupid enough to fall for it. I pray none of them are.

Nancy

"the ability of a woman to control what happens to her own body"

I'd like to see someone develop a cogent, up-to-date argment based on the fact that the fetus ISN'T "her own body"; from conception, it has a distinct and unique genetic code that is different from hers; it isn't HER.
During all those Ms. driven years of men & women being the same, we've lost the concept of the glory of womanhood being that we can carry a separate person within us.

T. Marzen

Get real folks.

While it is true that conceding that abortion is a tragedy may lead to a moral discourse potentially somewhat dangerous to the proabortion cause, this is about politics, not morality. Hillary and some Demos are moving to defang the prolife strategy for the past several years: emphasis on "hard cases" for the proabortion cause, like partial-birth abortion and fetal pain and parental notice. For strategic reasons, many of them would like to concede this ground . . . thus leaving the prolife cause to defend its "hard cases" -- like banning first trimester abortion, rape/incest and "health" abortion, abortion for fetal defect. The problem for us is that our "hard cases" involve over 90% of abortions, while theirs involve a much, much smaller percentage.

To win politically, they do not need to win the moral argument with everyone, but only the relatively large percentage of the population that is offended by extreme examples of abortion (as with partial-birth abortion or abortion on minors without parental involvement), but wouldn't think of banning abortion across the board, much less supporting criminal laws that treat those who abort unborn persons as those who kill infants or adults -- which is where the prolife moral position necessarily leads.

So the strategy that Hillary implies is extremely dangerous to the prolife political cause, even if it is an important moral victory. It forces us into the position of defending the logical consequences of our position in "hard cases," potentially trapping the prolife movement in a mirror image of the ideological cul-du-sac that Hillary and some Dems would like to escape.

Pierre Angulaire

The Clintons’ “safe, legal, and rare” approach is like Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” – totally phony, but meant to hit the desired political note. I gag on both.

Rich Leonardi

T. Marzen,

Ms. Clinton is every bit as extreme as Mr. Kerry on abortion. So any "hard cases" strategy on her part will force her to explain why she wouldn't lift a finger to address the easy ones.

T. Marzen

Rich Leonardi:

Hillary and other like-minded pols don't have to "explain" why they think first trimester or rape/incest or maternal health or fetal defect abortions shouldn't be banned when large percentages of the population already think they shouldn't be while supporting bans for partial-birth abortions and abortion without parental involvement.

Does the prolife cause have to "explain" why all abortions should be banned because we support a ban on partial-birth abortion, as the proabortion crowd would like to have us be required to do?

Faith

100% of the people I know personally had their abortions for convenience sake. Of the rape victims I have known, only one became pregnant, and she kept her baby. So do the stats depend on who you talk to?

Rich Leonardi

T. Marzen,

You're missing my point (or perhaps I didn't make it clear.) The "easy cases" are PBA and late trimester abortions. If she attempts to tar pro-lifers over the hard cases, which has been the strategy of the Democrats for at least twenty years, she'll need to explain why she can't even solve the easy ones.

I also would be curious to know whether she's accepted funds from late-trimester abortionists as Kerry did. If she did - and it's easy enough to find out - she can kiss her triangulation strategy goodbye.

Susan Peterson

I think Mr. Martzen meant that most abortions are first trimester, not that they are mostly for health or deformed fetus type reasons.

I don't think first trimester abortions are "hard cases" to call wrong, at all. If we could just make public the testimony from that woman who worked at the Chula Vista abortion clinic.

If the whole country heard about the woman whose husband discovered a tiny foot on her scrubs, when she got back from her job at an abortion clinic. Imagine an add, he greets her coming home, then says "Whats that on your shoulder?" picks it off, and says..."Oh, my God, it's a foot!" Close up to the foot in his hand, clearly showing both how tiny and how well developed it is...and a voice over saying that this foot was from a baby at about 10 weeks of development in the womb...

However, I think it is wrong and counterproductive to use the word "convenience."
I have heard a few reasons for abortion like, I was going to be in a wedding party and if I were 4 months pregnant my dress wouldn't fit...these one might call "convenience." But most reasons are more like...My boyfriend whom I love and whom I though loved me, said there is no way we can afford to have a baby or get married now; he has to finish grad school and so do I; but he says if I have an abortion now, we will get married and have a baby together when we are married and have good jobs and can take care of it. This is not "convenience." The woman denies her basic maternal instincts in favor of what the person she loves wants, in favor of what is urged as responsible, mature, behavior, planning, taking forsight. Any many scenarios are much much more difficult than this. I don't think we win women's hearts or votes by
insulting them.

Susan F. Peterson

Dorian Speed

I think Hillary's strategy is extremely shrewd, and plays to the large proportion of voters who see abortion as a tragedy, but a tragedy like euthanizing a kitten. Yes, a life is being taken, but it's not the *same* as murdering a three-month-old infant. This idea has, of course, no basis in logic, but tremendous emotional appeal to the person who doesn't feel a tug to her hearstrings when thinking about a 10-week-old fetus. I've heard lots of "personally opposed, but..." people saying that they believe God will take care of the babies lost to abortion, and so it's okay, because their lives are in God's hands.

As much as I wish people would follow through on the logical consequences of their opinions about this subject, I don't think they do. And I think the new rhetoric from the Democrats helps to soothe the consciences of people who really do think there's something wrong with abortion - but can't put their finger on exactly what it is.

Sandra

"fetal defect abortions"

You mean eugenic abortions?

There was a long story somewhere in the secular press in which, deep into the article and in a by the way fashion, a doctor commented that he was bothered by a patient who had 3 abortions, each one because the fetus had 12 fingers. He explained to her that they deal with that immediately after birth, it isn't disfiguring and it causes no problems but she wanted them aborted. (I know someone, now in her 50s, who was born with 12 fingers and there isn't even a scar, that I recall.) Is this a "fetal defect" abortion that Hillary could defend?

Christina

T Marzan, I'm with David Reardon on this. I think the prolife movement needs to charge in and grab the "hard cases." I've estimated that of every 3,000 women whose docs tell them they "need" an abortion for "hard cases", only 1 or 2 of them acutally has medical indications that would necessitate considering an abortion. This is overkill in the ugliest sense of the word. If we did some hard research into this and shouted the results from the rooftops, we could prove that the whole "hard cases" think is just a ploy to gain sympathy.

We need to ask the question: Who do we want our laws to protect? The occasional woman who REALLY wants a dead baby, or the vast majority of women who love their children, even in the womb, and would avoid abortions if they thought they could?

ajb

It seems that the percentage of the population that wants to criminalize ALL abortions is relatively small.

So most people come up with some justification to deal with the cognitive dissonance of opposing SOME abortions because they believe the fetus to be a human life, while permitting the destruction of other fetuses.

I personally don't think a law that would criminalize abortion without a "rape/incest" or even "life of the mother" exception has any chance of garnering even simple majority support.

The sad fact is that probably the overwhelming majority of the public adheres to a "safe, legal and rare" position. Ultimately, they just don't want to think about it.

Fortunately, our pro-life president has devoted the early part of his second term, his political capital, and his "mandate" to pushing the issue. Oh wait, he wants to overturn Social Security, not Roe. Nevermind.

Rich Leonardi

That's right, ajb. An administration presiding over a government that employs several hundred thousand people and absorbs a third of the GDP couldn't possibly be pursuing two things at once.

ajb

I forgot. Bein' Preznit is HARD WORK, HARD WORK.

Rich Leonardi

Is there a point you're making, or are you content with playing to the St. Blog's gallery?

Faith

Self-control and respecting oneself and a potential mate should be taught from grade 5 on, not where to obtain birth control or an abortion. "They're going to do it anyway" is an insulting and assuming mantra that has successfully brainwashed many people into a mindset that promotes promiscuity and, of course, big business for PP. Having been advised by a liberal Christian-in-name-only recently that it is my duty as a responsible parent to get my youngest on birth control as soon as possible- my youngest is not even a teen yet- I see the irony that this person has repeatedly told me not to impose my Catholic beliefs on anyone else, but vice-versa is apparently fine! Can still not get over the fact that my oldest received a cute welcome-to-college pack that contained a sample birth control patch- technically, my husband and I paid for the "privilege" of promoting this product. So, please excuse me if I insulted desperate individuals who have been taught since childhood that they have no other choice. That is not my intention. It is the sinful promotion of the "if it feels good, do it" credo that I am strongly opposed to, as well as using the brutal crimes of rape and incest as excuses for keeping abortion legal.

Susan

I don't have any thoughtful observations on the specific subject of the OP, but I do have a question that occurs to me rather often when I read comments like the ones above: if the Democratic party did somehow manage to spearhead changes that brought the abortion rate down significantly (by which I mean 50% or more), would it be a welcome development to the pro-life movement? Would they see it as a victory?

brent

Question-

If we make abortion illegal, do we impose criminal penalties on the woman who has the abortion?

caroline

Brent's question above is exactly what troubles me about making abortion illegal. What will we do about the lawbreakers? My solution would be to treat then illegal abortions the way we now treat illegal immigration.

Liam

The laws that Roe overturned only criminalized the provision -- not the reception -- of abortion; they were directed at providers, not expectant mothers.

Philip

Brent's question is just what Hillary is playing to: she was just testing the waters.

If you outlaw abortion and refuse to prosecute, the wealthier women will get off, while the poor face more danger from incompetent abortionists or will be prosecuted for infanticide.

Prosecute the doctors and the women, and put an end to the lie of "unwanted" human life. Once you give in to that lie, anything goes.

Annie B.

Emily, re: your comments esp. "I couldn't help feel ... a sense of validation when she, as a leading politician, acknowledged part of how I feel."

I would feel she had validated how we feel if she had done this PRE-ELECTION 2004. AFTERWARD, it is most likely pandering for votes. She calls the suspicion down on herself.

Yes, I know, people can change, miracles can happen. But if she had no shot in hell of ever being elected President and STILL said this was her belief, THEN it would be credible. Otherwise, it's suspect.

Annie B.

I saw our (CT) Congressman Chris Shays change his mind from supporting PBA to not supporting it, once shown the horrible truth. No such thing has happened to Hillary, that I know of. She hasn't sat down and earnestly met with David Reardon, Emily, me, Georgette, Janet or Theresa Burke, et. al.

The day Hillary does, and honestly proves to me that she accepts the truth of all that we are living, THEN I'll buy it as "good."

Annie B.

Gerard E.: Can you give us a link or more sourcing on "Particularly her clumsy attempt at triangulation regarding abortion this week. Which she quickly abandoned a few days later in another speech, going back to Playing To The Base." ? Where/when/to whom did she make that second speech? Thanks.

Rich Leonardi, I'd also like to know whether she's accepted funds from late-trimester abortionists as Kerry did. Anyone got any G2?

Susan, "if the Democratic party did somehow manage to spearhead changes that brought the abortion rate down significantly (by which I mean 50% or more), would it be a welcome development to the pro-life movement? Would they see it as a victory?"

Yes, to the first, No to the second, because victory only comes when women don't resort to an act of self-violence and the ending of another innocent life just to solve a human problem. As Serrin Foster of Feminists for Life said, "Babies don't ruin people's lives. Poverty ruins people's lives. Unemployment ruins people's lives. A lack of education ruins people's lives. Violence ruins people's lives."

mark

"Hillary's Way is not as magical as these people seem to think it is because it's immediately leads to all kinds of other questions, some of which - like "why is this immoral" - the powers that be in the abortion rights movement (aka the Democratic power base) do not want to answer or see discussed"

Trouble is, the GOP doesn't want to discuss it either, because their leaders seem to be trending in a pro-abortion, pro-choice direction. Look at the hot-to-trot GOP presidential candidates currently positioning themselves: Giuliani, Pataki, Schwarzenegger [damn the Constitution, full speed ahead]. No pro-life rhetoricians there. Santorum and Jeb Bush are doing the dance too, but I think Santorum is going to have trouble even being reelected senator, and does the country, red or blue, really want another Bush presidency?

So, the issue is there, I just don't see a GOP that's truly interested in seizing on it.

And why is that? Why is there no deeply felt commitment to pro-life issues, only pro forma support, from a party that owes its prominence to the pro-life religious right?

BECAUSE THEY ARE USING US, MUCH AS THE DEMOCRAT PARTY HAS USED BLACK VOTERS SINCE THE SIXTIES. They have used us, and in 2008 there is every possibility that the payback will be a "pro-choice" presidential candidate, such as one of those mentioned above, or perhaps every republican's current pin up girl, Condi Rice, who has been quiet as can be about it, but who has described herself as "moderately" pro-choice.

Sage

Amy, you're right. This is simply nothing new. It's the same, tired old "personally opposed" bit. All Hillary said was that abortion makes her sad, and that she "respects" the deeply held conviction of her opposition. What does it mean in practical terms, though? Absolutely nothing.

Note well that the pro-abortionist's answer to the question "How are we to make abortion rare?" is not a Catholic one. What they really mean is that they intend to make PREGNANCY rare. "Rare" is code for "condom" or "pill" or teenie sex ed.

In any event, the "legal" part is the part where we disagree, and until that portion of the formula is up for grabs, then this is no concession at all. Clinton's position amounts to a sothing reassurance that she'll do exactly nothing to appease the pro-life constituency, except maybe make vague proclamations that she feels their pain. What is amazing is that so many are taken in by the vacuous nonsense. Wishful thinkers can read all sorts of things into her remarks--which is what she's hoping will happen.

c matt

Stupid enough to listen to Howard Dean when he lectures them, tells them what Christianity is really about

Of course, to Howard, Christianity is all about a bicycle path.

Laura

"Babies don't ruin people's lives. Poverty ruins people's lives. Unemployment ruins people's lives. A lack of education ruins people's lives. Violence ruins people's lives."

Exactly. And how have the Republicans sought to change this? Which leads me into Mark's comment. I also absolutely agree with you. The Republicans have been in power, in the White House or Congress, since Reagan. How much has been accomplished in the pro-life sphere? (The Dems blocked them, I know, I know.) It's a way to gather the troops, placate them, and move onto your real agenda, which in this case seems to be enriching Halliburton and cronies. With Republican White House and Congress, let's see what they accomplish. Bush already seems to be forgetting all about abortion and gay marriage. What does he care? He got his.

And yes, all the big names pushed around are pro-abortion people. People seem to be so happy California has a Republican guv, but look at him. Pro- abortion, gay union, stem cell research. And they (the RNC) want to change the Constitution for this guy! What are the Dems complaining about?

Laura

"Babies don't ruin people's lives. Poverty ruins people's lives. Unemployment ruins people's lives. A lack of education ruins people's lives. Violence ruins people's lives."

Exactly. And how have the Republicans sought to change this? Which leads me into Mark's comment. I also absolutely agree with you. The Republicans have been in power, in the White House or Congress, since Reagan. How much has been accomplished in the pro-life sphere? (The Dems blocked them, I know, I know.) It's a way to gather the troops, placate them, and move onto your real agenda, which in this case seems to be enriching Halliburton and cronies. With Republican White House and Congress, let's see what they accomplish. Bush already seems to be forgetting all about abortion and gay marriage. What does he care? He got his.

And yes, all the big names pushed around are pro-abortion people. People seem to be so happy California has a Republican guv, but look at him. Pro- abortion, gay union, stem cell research. And they (the RNC) want to change the Constitution for this guy! What are the Dems complaining about?

Aggieangst

"the ability of a women to control what happens to her own body"

Let me see, women want to control their own bodies, why then do most states have laws which prohibit anti-social behavior such as prostitution, sex with minors, bestiality, etc.? Hillary, why do we have such laws, after all, women just want the ability to control their own bodies.

DT

One encouraging aspect about this is it moves the debate in the correct direction--and politically speaking, it moves the "center" to the "right." If it wants to maintain its identity as the pro-life party, the GOP will have to be more vocal and more active on abortion, fetal stem cells, euthanasia, etc.
I think it's mostly window dressing, but just a few years ago, the Dems thought they could simply flip pro-lifers the bird. No more, apparently.
We're winning.

c matt

"Babies don't ruin people's lives. Poverty ruins people's lives. Unemployment ruins people's lives. A lack of education ruins people's lives. Violence ruins people's lives."

Exactly. And how have the Republicans sought to change this?

How have the Democrats? They have done nothing either. Whatever happened to the war on poverty declared by the Democratic Great LBJ? I guess he lost it. Truth is, he never inteneded to win it. The Dems don't want to do away with poverty or lack of education - the poor and uneducated are their biggest constituency (why do you think public ed is so bad? - last thing Dems need are people who can think for themselves).

Annie B.

Laura and c matt are in effect both right (except about the Repubs in power since Reagan, the Clintonites held massive sway in the White House and Congress, esp. on the issue of Abortion (e.g. Daschle, Boxer, Kennedy, Lieberman, the other proabortion/CINO politicians included). Neither party has done a whole hell of a lot to fix poverty, etc. But there are about 3,400 private, nonprofit, Crisis Pregnancy Centers around the U.S. that do work on nothing but donations and volunteers to help women in crisis pregnancies, totally outside the realm of the gov't. If the gov't got involved in doing that, they might screw it up, or bureaucratize it. I think that's part of what GWB's faith-based initiatives help was all about.

And Bush isn't the pivot on which most abortion will be abolished again, as it was for 140 years prior to Roe and NYS's law. We the women of Silent No More and similar groups are pushing this forward. I still want the support of our President, but it really isn't up to him, it's up to the 9 people in robes on the Supreme Court now. Bush has no say in the matter.

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