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Pro-what?

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Kos is impressed by Jerome Armstrong’s attempt to re-frame the abortion issue. But I don’t get it:

Stripping away the slogans will get people to pay attention to the debate over the legislative action taken on the issue of abortion. Politicians get paid to do this, it can be done quickly, and the reporters always follow. Very few people are pro-abortion, and neither is the Democratic Party pro-abortion. We value life just as much as Republicans do, and we value our freedom and privacy from governmental intrusion even more.

So if a politician says I am pro-life and Democrat, lets hear them out. The Republicans will snicker and respond, no you aren’t. And if the politician responds by saying yes I am, I do not like to see abortions, but will not legislate or have the government intruding into this private decision between a woman, her family, and her doctor. That’s a politician that belongs in the Democratic Party. And boom, this is a politician that’s going to put the Republicans on the defensive.

Ah, I see–we try to redefine “pro-life” as “abortion is really bad but shouldn’t be regulated.” Three points:

1)The assumption that the pro-choice frame no longer works isn’t very persuasive. Public opinion is not shifting against legalized abortion or Roe v. Wade. States are passing regulations that are bad, although they don’t affect abortion rates much, but Armstrong’s assertions that this is due to bad framing is highly problematic.

2)More importantly, I am at an utter loss to explain how emphasizing that abortion is really bad but should (reluctantly ) remain legal will decrease the impetus for abortion regulations. Indeed, it seems to me that humiliating, obstructionist regulations like waiting periods, consent forms, and the like represent the codification of the sensibility that holds that abortion is morally bad but perhaps shouldn’t be banned outright. Just conceding that abortion is a bad thing will, over time, of course lead to more regulation and make if more difficult to sustain legal abortion. Armstrong’s hypothetical question hardly puts anyone on the defensive; quite the opposite. It invites an obvious rejoinder: if abortion is so awful, and preserving “life” so important, why shouldn’t we ban it? As I’ve mentioned before, Hillary Clinton bringing up alternative policies that reveal the fact that support for the “culture of life” is merely an unprincipled pretext for intrusive, patriarchal social control is a far more effective strategy. I also don’t think that simply calling the pro-choice position “pro-life” will fool anyone.

3)It should also be noted that, aside from strategic considerations, this argument is awful on the merits. As for the idea that women who have abortions should constantly be lectured by politicians that they’re doing something wrong, I vote “no.”

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