July 26, 2007

Democrats Getting Into Life?

Democrats have long tried to eat into the Republican grip on voters of faith, and now that they have control of Congress, they may have hit on a formula that works. Instead of their normal absolutist position on abortion rights, the Democrats have offered two bills that work to support women who choose to have their babies. Some Republicans are calling foul, however:

Sensing an opportunity to impress religious voters — and tip elections — Democrats in Congress and on the campaign trail have begun to adopt some of the language and policy goals of the antiabortion movement.

For years, the liberal response to abortion has been to promote more accessible and affordable birth control as well as detailed sex education in public schools.

That's still the foundation of Democratic policies. But in a striking shift, Democrats in the House last week promoted a grab bag of programs designed not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but also to encourage women who do conceive to carry to term.

The new approach embraces some measures long sought by antiabortion activists. It's designed to appeal to the broad centrist bloc of voters who don't want to criminalize every abortion — yet are troubled by a culture that accepts 1.3 million terminations a year.

The Democrats may have discovered a middle ground on abortion, one that has been rumored to exist but few have seen. They have taken a few steps towards the middle with the Reducing the Need for Abortions Initiative, attempting to recast government services away from incentivizing abortions. It uses the same big government approach that once funded abortions, but now counsels women on the adoption option, home nurses for pregnant women choosing to have their babies, and even federal day care for those who keep the children themselves.

Republicans such as Mike Pence sense clouds in all this silver lining, however. Noting that Planned Parenthood would garner substantial new funding from these programs, Pence says that sending federal monies to the nation's largest provider of abortions in the name of reducing abortions makes no sense at all. Traditional pro-choicers see issues in the new approach as well; New York's Rep. Louise Slaughter argues, women don't have abortions because they can't afford day care.

This new, moderate approach will not win over the entire pro-life caucus, and for good reason -- it doesn't do anything to impede abortions. Democrats still refuse to mandate a review of ultrasounds before an abortion, which pro-lifers insist will reduce the number of abortions. It also seems more than a little like a stalking-horse for government-run medical care.

However, it will provide some hope of saving some children from the abortionist's vacuum pump, and that means that some in the pro-life movement may find themselves swayed by these efforts. Primarily, that will be the pro-lifers who have less investment in the rest of the Republican platform. While that number may be small, it won't take much to boost Democrats in these days of razor-thin margins in state and federal elections.

It's a smart move by Democrats, and as they turn away from their knee-jerk endorsement of abortion, we should applaud the change. However, it really shows how much Republicans have resonated on this issue, and how bad being associated with over 40 million abortions has become for the Democrats.


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Comments (23)

Posted by syn | July 26, 2007 5:04 PM

The poet is the unacknowledged legislator.(shelley)

Democrats garnering the Centrist vote with a few well chosen words offering meaningless actions? Seems the unacknowledged poet is once again at work toiling with the muddled masses.

That said, Planned Parenthood has enough government funded money.

What I'd ask of the centrist voter, in the spirit of free market ideals why not at least spread the entitlement tax money around.

Posted by suek | July 26, 2007 5:15 PM

"It uses the same big government approach that once funded abortions... and even federal day care for those who keep the children themselves."

That federal day jumped out at me, since Hillary wants universal kindergarten. How much of a jump is it to go from federally funded day care to preschool to kindergarten?

Posted by Christoph | July 26, 2007 5:37 PM

"Democrats still refuse to mandate a review of ultrasounds before an abortion..."

Background: I am pro-life. Strongly. Not just politically, but personally. It is, for example, almost one of the first things I find out about a woman I'm interested in dating and wrong answer, she's out.

However, since when did it become the government's responsibility to mandate women review photos of the inside of their body and their developing babies?

If it reduces abortions, this is good. But why or how could it be the government's place to order a parent to look at an ultrasound?

Posted by Captain Ed | July 26, 2007 5:47 PM

Well, federal funds come with those kinds of requirements. That requirement would only apply to clinics that receive federal funds.

Posted by Christoph | July 26, 2007 6:06 PM

Okay, but surely a woman would have a right to refuse to look at a photo if she chose.

Most women I know look forward to ultrasound photos and love to see them.

But how exactly could the government require an individual woman to look at a photo she didn't want to see it? And if a woman had decided to kill her baby, I understand why she wouldn't want to look at the person she was about to kill.

It pains me to defend someone about to commit a murderous act I despise... yet I just don't see how the government could mandate this.

I think what you're saying is that the clinics would have to put a review of ultrasound photos into their standard treatment and counseling programs. This is good and I support it without reservation.

I just hope you're advocating mandating the federal fund receiving clinic to perform a review, not require the parent to look at photos she may not want to see.

I know squeamish people who wouldn't want to look at an image of any body part... I think this is foolish. I'm not squeamish. Yet I can't imagine the state requiring me to look at said photo.

Anyway, I'm debating something I doubt you disagree with me about anyway. Just getting clarification.

Posted by daytrader | July 26, 2007 8:16 PM

With all the other antics of the Dems and their coming attendance by their candidates to the Kos convention I am calling pure politics BS trying to buy votes.

The started this whole thing a month or so ago when it finally sunk in over at the most liberal websites that most of the abortions were taking out future dem voters.

It does two things for them.

It buys votes using other peoples money to throw a crumb to moderates

Its another issue along with the bumping up of child health insurance at a massive cost increase to cover kids up to much higher income families that they are chipping away at government being the insurer to make people say we are 3/4 of the way toward universal health care so we may as well go the rest of the way.

Posted by Joe | July 26, 2007 9:21 PM

A little off the subject but here in Wisconsin the dems and the gop are fighting over a budget proposal to insure all children....seems like a good idea to me....the gop is fighting it because they claim it will raise taxes...probably....I told my wife I would gladly pay another $100 a year in taxes if I knew we were providing healthcare to children.....seems like a good tradeoff to me.

Posted by reddog | July 26, 2007 9:45 PM

I am strongly pro-choice. This is primarily because I remember the plight of my female friends and classmates during the sixties and early seventies. Pregnant girls were the victims of vicious gossip, ostracized from the life of the community, their educations discontinued, their prospects for a normal life destroyed. The Catholic Church ran a home where girls were locked away under the supervision of nuns, from the time they began to show until after their babies were delivered and put up for adoption.

Society has changed a great deal since that time. Many women now choose to have children out of wedlock. The choice should be celebrated and supported. It is time for the liberal community to take a new look at abortion. Since birth control is now universally available and facilities and counseling for 1st trimester abortion are usually within reach, there really is no need for late term abortion short of a catastrophic medical emergency.

My only real concern is that the fundipublicans will move to restigmatize unwed mothers. I fear this will happen.

Once a witchburner, always a witchburner.

Posted by Thomas Jackson | July 26, 2007 10:13 PM

This is little more than an attempt to expand the reach and power of the Federal government. What business does the Federal government have to fund abortions much less sanction them.

Think about the character of people who would kill their own children. Do you think they have any concern or respect for others if they can kill their own children.

Once a child killer always a child killer.

Posted by Rightwingsparkle | July 26, 2007 10:31 PM

If it reduces abortions, this is good. But why or how could it be the government's place to order a parent to look at an ultrasound?

I don't think that is possible or even enforceable (I mean, you can always close your eyes). It does, however, offer the girl the right to see the sonogram. Which, in almost all cases, they do if given the opportunity.

It's kind of important.

Pregnant girls were the victims of vicious gossip, ostracized from the life of the community, their educations discontinued, their prospects for a normal life destroyed.

Which even if true, which I am not buying, is SO MUCH worse than destroying their own child.

Good grief.

Posted by Ray | July 26, 2007 10:42 PM

A lot of uninsured children could have basic medical insurance coverage with the assistance of the government (and without raising taxes) if the federal and state governments took all the money they spend on abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood, and used it to subsidize insurance policies for living children instead of paying to kill, and then dispose of, the "unwanted" ones.

Of course, it's a lot cheaper to kill someone than to take care of them, so maybe that's the liberals true agenda; kill the unborn children before they grow up and get too expensive to treat.

Posted by reddog | July 26, 2007 11:39 PM

Are ya dim Ray?

The government doesn't fund abortions. Doesn't give a nickel to planned parenthood.

I once worked at a community clinic, did mostly reproductive health (VD and birth control) and indigent health care. Because we received some government funding, we were strictly forbidden from doing any abortion counseling. If asked we could give referrals to planned parenthood.

Posted by Carol Herman | July 26, 2007 11:52 PM

Sorry, I just never saw this one as the "big" issue.

But then, I'm old, now. And, in my "yoot" ... I knew that women had perfectly healthy uteruses removed by UNSCRUPULOUS doctors! Why? Because they were Catholic. Averages ages about 32. And, they didn't want anymore children.

Thank goodness that castration stopped!

But it didn't stop during the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's. In those days, women did what they had to do in a culture that made even buying condoms, difficult.

Today? The Catholic Church is still reeling from the costs of those abusive priests who molested alter boys.

You might not think big changes occured, But they did. How do I know? I have a Catholic friend, who, these days wears pants to Mass. And, she's mentioned all the changes she's seen with her own eyeballs.

As to this abortion cause; today's women take for granted all the freedoms they have since the advent of the Pill.

My mom ran out and bought stock, once the Bill was licensed by the FDA. Syntex. An interesting name for a company. She was right. She said separate from all the false "yelling" ... women would use the Pill just so that they took control in their families; and were no longer dependent on "the messy diaphram." Which, is you forgot to put it in before you went to bed, could mean it wasn't in; when you got pregnant, again.

As to condoms, you should go to the older guys and ask them their stories. Unlike yesterday, today you can by condoms while you're out grocery shopping.

Of course, since I do have a Catholic friend, I do know the church she attends raises money to fight abortion. No. They don't tell her what has to be diverted, now, to pay off the $600-million judgement to "settle" numerous abuse cases. But you can't take the same dime, and pay for everything with it. It has its limits.

And, the pews are emptier than you think.

Sometimes, changes are obvious.

As to politicians, they're just not worthy on any level. Whatever they're spouting it ain't a religious experience.

Posted by docjim505 | July 27, 2007 5:49 AM

Great. Another entitlement program that the dems can flog every election season.

"The Republicans want to take away your free day care!"

I'm glad that even the dems have finally started to figure out that murdering unborn children is somewhat undesirable, and I applaud any measure that reduces the frequency of this heinous practice. I wonder, though, if a want of free child care is why women choose to abort. Isn't it rather that they simply don't want the inconvenience of dealing with a child?

And at risk of sounding heartless...

reddog wrote (July 26, 2007 9:45 PM):

I am strongly pro-choice. This is primarily because I remember the plight of my female friends and classmates during the sixties and early seventies. Pregnant girls were the victims of vicious gossip, ostracized from the life of the community, their educations discontinued, their prospects for a normal life destroyed.

Perhaps they should have thought about those things BEFORE they decided to shack up. Those unpleasant consequences were part of the societal mechanism for discouraging premarital sex. Unfortunately, decades of women's lib and overt sexualization of our culture have all but destroyed them, with the result that a staggering number of young American women suffer from unintended pregnancies and / or social diseases every year. Instead of telling young women that "good girls don't do that", we tell them that they're making a "choice [that] should be celebrated and supported". O' course, when they get HIV or some other disease, or wind up with a little bundle of joy when they didn't want it, it's not quite such a cause for celebration.

And, no, I'm not leaving the boys out of the equation. We tell them that part of proving their manhood is sleeping with as many women as possible; the government will take care of any consequences so the guys don't have to worry about it.

Perhaps young women (and men) would be a bit better off if society reverted to its nasty ol' Christian conservative ways and did what it can to discourage sexual promiscuity... no matter how much it hurts somebody's widdle feewings.

Posted by Jazz | July 27, 2007 6:44 AM

"The Democrats may have discovered a middle ground on abortion, one that has been rumored to exist but few have seen."

I disagree strongly with this portion of the analysis. There has long been a clear and obvious middle ground in this terribly divisive issue, but neither side has ever wanted to consider it because this has long seemed to be one of the most cherished and black/white divisive issues the two parties have to brandish at each other.

The problem is that the pro-life movement has always wanted to go to the mat, to any extreme, to prevent (and if possible, outlaw) any instance of the termination of a pregnancy. And in return, the Democrats have gone to the mat to oppose any mention of other options such as post-natal care assistance, adoption counceling, etc.

The middle ground always came down to choice. Providing information and support and making services available to all women in this unfortunate situation so that they had a *choice.* You see, "choice" has long since become a dirty word on the right wing. It's evil incarnate. This is because they refuse to acknowledge that having a "choice" also inludes the "choice" to carry a baby to term, keep it, put it up for adoption, etc. etc.

The government only needed to balance funding, support and policy to ensure that women knew they had *both* options open to them and the potential benefits and downsides to both.

If either party can begin moving toward that type of solution, I'll applaud them. (I won't register to join their party, but I'll applad them nonetheless.)

Posted by syn | July 27, 2007 7:30 AM

I don't know Carol,

From my experience as the 1st generation of sexually liberated women you elder gals led us younger girls into, I have found condoms to be a big scam. Oh sure people carry them in their wallets/purses and may even put them on just before going in however the moment it interfers with the sensitivity factor the rubbers come off. Everyone will say 'how irresponsible of you' yet they never seem to understand what happens in the moment of deep passion that being, condoms come off because they get in the way of the pleasure.

Not to get into your personeal self but perhaps it's been a while since you've been out in the real sex world where people talk condom but never wear condom.

But you elder gals seem to still believe that condoms will prevent abortions, if this is true then why are there 1.3 million abortions per year?

My experience tells me nobody is wearing the condom. SO in the interest of women's issues could you please at the very least acknowledge that condoms are not the solution. Perhaps having a lot more respect for ourselves by not spreading our legs apart for every Tom, Dick and Bruce to enter whenever the moment strikes us might help.
I know it has helped me to deal wth the crap my sisterhood encouraged me to do.

Honestly, the you and your sisterhood have done a whole lot more damage to females than the Catholic Church ever could.

Posted by Jim | July 27, 2007 7:37 AM

Reddog states: "My only real concern is that the fundipublicans will move to restigmatize unwed mothers. I fear this will happen."

With all due respect, what planet are YOU from?

Yeah, like American society is suddenly going to transform itself back into 1953. What other irrational fears keep you awake at night clutching your blankie?

Based on your particular brand of logic, if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, (which does NOT make abortion illegal - it just removes it as a "constitutional right," and leaves the issue to the states to decide the issue) - Americans here, now, in our post-modern, Euro secular 21st century, will instantly begin treating pregnant teens with horror, and such pregnancies will be a source of SHAME, SHAME, SHAME, oh you Devil Child you!!

Yep. And based on that same brand of 'logic' if affirmative action quota policies are finally killed by those same rethuglicans, know what that is going to lead to? You guessed - a re-segretated military, a rebirth of "step and fetch it" films, adult black males being referred to as "boy," blacks to the back of the bus.... you name it. Maybe even a rebirth of slavery!!

Are you related to Chicken Little by any chance?

Posted by Monkei | July 27, 2007 8:21 AM

Reddog --- although I don't feel I have a voice in the abortion issue as a man, you are incorrect about the government funding planned parenthood. I can find, and you can find, references to at least 100million in funding through various programs if you google it.

that is not to say that the funding goes directly to the abortion itself however.

it is nice to see that a middle ground has been found by at least one of the parties, but all along I thought that personal "choice" was indeed the middle ground.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | July 27, 2007 8:21 AM

Pro-life Democrats come on down, jump in, the water is fine. : ))

Now the pro-life movement is "bi-partisan." So my bi-partisan buddies, can we work on confirming President Bush's Originalist judges and overturning Roe.

I'll keep the light on, but I won't stay up waiting for the phone to ring.

Posted by MarkW | July 27, 2007 9:42 AM


Would it still seem like a good deal if you are paying an extra $5000 per year to provide other people's children with health care?

Because that's a much more likely final figure.

Posted by MarkW | July 27, 2007 9:45 AM

Given the well documented problems of children growing up in single parent households maybe a little societal disapproval of single mothers would be a good thing.

Posted by Monkei | July 27, 2007 10:04 AM

Would it still seem like a good deal if you are paying an extra $5000 per year to provide other people's children with health care?

Because that's a much more likely final figure.>

file this under the pay me now pay me later ... who do you think is paying in the end for emergent care?

Posted by Ray | July 27, 2007 12:27 PM

Planned Parenthood received over $305 million in federal funding from 2005-2006. Even though they are restricted from spending federal finding to promote or provide abortions, they are sill a major provider for abortions and they are still receiving federal funds.

If you don't believe that Planned Parenthood doesn't provide for abortions, then I suggest you access their website and search for abortions. This is the first search result that appears:

"Planned Parenthood Los Angeles provides surgical abortions for women between three and 24 weeks of pregnancy. We offer local anesthesia, IV sedation and general anesthesia as choices during abortions.

So reddog, just who is the dim one here?

Federal funding of abortion providers should stop. No origination that willfully provides for abortions should receive any federal funds for any reason.