When asked about abortion on Meet the Press this morning, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) gave the tried and true, and some might suggest tired, social conservative response. It’s all about abortion, what matters to Republican voters is that Sen. John McCain is going to overturn Roe v. Wade, not his potentially pro-choice running mate.
Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia had a more comprehensive answer that reflects the reality of American lives when it comes to reproductive health:
Gov. Kaine: Here’s the distinction between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain. Sen. Obama believes abortion is a grave moral issue, that we can do things to reduce unwanted pregnancy and abortion, but that we shouldn’t criminalize the health care decisions of doctors and women to fight abortion. Sen. McCain on the other hand says he wants Roe v. Wade overturned and that will be a step toward criminalizing the decisions of doctors and women with respect to abortion. We can reduce abortion and unwanted pregnancy in this country, we’ve shown it in the Clinton years, we can do it without making women and doctors criminals if they engage in abortion and that procedure. We shouldn’t use the criminal law as a blunt instrument against women and doctors in this way. We can reduce abortion through access to education, access to contraception, abstinece-focused education, all those things can help us reduce abortion. The criminal law is not the way we should do it.
David Gregory: When do you believe human rights begins?
Gov. Kaine: Human rights broadly, my church teaches, and I do believe that human rights begin at conception or shortly thereafter, and that is my personal belief, but I do not believe the force of the criminal law should necessarily force others to follow that to the greatest degree. The strategy of Sen. Obama is to reduce abortion through education, health care access, point out the grave issue, support reasonable common sense restrictions on abortion, I think that’s important, but you shouldn’t be talking about overturning Roe v. Wade or criminalizing women and doctor.
Comprehensive sexuality education includes a focus on abstinence and the respect for self and partner that encourages teens to delay sexual debut, versus what social conservatives support, an abstinence-only-until-marriage approach that has proven unworkable and dangerous to the health of young people. Kaine’s focus on the education and prevention agenda long championed by progressives, is helping to broaden the debate and forcing Americans to look at the failures of the far-right on these issues and consider the private decisions they make every day with regard to sexual and reproductive health, and planning their own families, which obviously includes access to contraception.