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How To Talk About Abortion Rights

Democratic candidate for Georgia Governor Stacey Abrams speaks during an election-night watch party Tuesday, May 22, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Stacey Abrams, in the midst of an uncharacteristically strong SOTU response, did it right:

Compare that to the vision presented by Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, the first black woman nominated by a major party for governor, who gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union. In her speech, Abrams centered her talk of reproductive justice issues on women. She decried the despicable maternal mortality rate of a nation where “mothers, especially black mothers, risk death to give birth.” And she framed abortion rights as a moral issue with progressives on the right side of history. “America achieved a measure of reproductive justice in Roe v. Wade, but we must never forget it is immoral to allow politicians to harm women and families to advance a political agenda,” Abrams said.

Though reproductive rights got just a few lines in Abrams’ speech, she cut to the heart of the issue with a winning argument. It is unethical to deprive women of the freedom and access to make informed decisions about their bodies. It is cruel to force women to carry to term a fetus that will only live a brief, painful life or perish upon birth. (As I wrote last week in response to the hubbub around the Virginia bill, third-trimester abortions are performed most often in cases of severe fetal deformities undetectable until later in pregnancy.) And it is a moral disgrace that the party that calls itself “pro-life” looks the other way as black mothers and infants die from a toxic brew of inadequate health care and racism-related stress. To win on abortion rights, Democrats would do well to follow the Abrams playbook: Don’t take the Republican bait on imaginary “moments before birth” abortions. Keep the focus on women’s lives.

Things are about to get a lot worse, but keep the moral high ground — which belongs with supporters of reproductive freedom — in sight.

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