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Finally, A New Idea!

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As the primary season drags on, you might be getting tired of always hearing about the same stuff. Fortunately, someone has a brand new idea: Democrats throwing reproductive freedom under the bus! Kinda!

Winters ­who is the author of a forthcoming book, “Left at the Altar: How the Democrats Lost the Catholics and How the Catholics Can Save the Democrats,” ­ thinks Clinton could expand her support in the Pennsylvania primary (and in the general election) by distancing herself “from some of the more extreme pro-abortion arguments.” He elaborates:

She could say that the Democrats need to move beyond simply defending Roe and find alternatives to abortion or new ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. She could repeat her husband’s mantra that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” and point to ways that might make it more rare.

If one wants to give this a charitable interpretation, the obvious problem is that Clinton has already done this, which should have taught us for the umpteenth time that when given the choice between preventing unwanted pregnancies (and hence reducing abortions) and regulating female sexuality, American anti-choicers have an extremely strong tendency to choose the latter. I don’t see any evidence for the existence of a free ride where Democrats can pick up lots of anti-abortion voters without changing their substantive positions at all. I also don’t know what “extreme pro-abortion” arguments Clinton and Obama subscribe to, but presumably the problem is that they believe that women other than affluent ones who live in cities should have access to safe abortions instead of believing that some classes of women should be subject to a blizzard of irrational regulations.

In a similar vein, Amy Sullivan goes into her views on the subject at greater length. In addition to the free ride problem, her discussion is centered around an alleged contradiction that isn’t hard to explain. She claims the views of many Americans are incoherent because they have moral qualms about abortion but don’t want it to be illegal. But, of course, there’s not really a contradiction here: many more Americans believe that adultery is immoral than believe that adulterers belong in jail. This is particularly true given the ineffectiveness of and gross inequities inherent in criminalizing abortions, and it remains extremely frustrating that Sullivan and others who share her views generally refuse to discuss this. “I think abortion is immoral,” full stop, isn’t going to expand the pro-choice coalition or convince people to vote for Democrats.

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