Mock the Vote


In this election, record numbers of Catholics and young Evangelicals,
the nation’s traditional pro-life base, voted in unexpected ways. They
voted to elect our second pro-choice President. Rather than induce
reflection in staunch pro-life groups, they have instead reacted with
denial and yet more extremism.

First the numbers. The New York Times reports that Obama
inspired an 8% jump in Catholic supporters compared to those who voted
for the Catholic John Kerry in 2004. And Obama doubled his support
among young white evangelicals (those ages 18 to 29) compared with
Kerry. The increase was almost the same for white evangelicals ages 30
to 44.

The Times reports that young evangelicals were persuaded by
"a broader agenda" than abortion. In the case of the pro-life movement,
that broader agenda included rolling back access to contraception, and
backing abstinence-only programs despite mounting evidence of its
failures. They oppose contraception, stem cell and IVF treatment, all
issues that find strong support even among self-described pro-life
voters. Pro-life campaigns targeting these issues clearly alienated
otherwise sympathetic voters; helping propel Obama into the presidency.

This election provides further evidence that the pro-life movement
has lost resonance with voters. Oddly, pro-life groups have responded
to defeats by redoubling their efforts – usually the exact same efforts
– on behalf of this extreme agenda.

Three days after his election, for example, one anti-abortion
group took aim at President-elect Obama’s leadership on expanding
access to contraception. The organization, the Population Research
Institute (PRI), is best known for its mission to stop family planning
in the poorest regions of the world. On Friday the group attacked Obama
for having been the sponsor of Prevention First, legislation that would dramatically expand access to birth control in the United States. The organization’s press release stated,

"Obama has pledged to pay for abortions with Americans’ tax
dollars, such as in the Prevention First Act which he co-sponsored in
the Senate. The bill will "increase funding for family planning and
comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex
methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against
contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and
provide compassionate assistance to rape victims." According to PRI,
this language disguises the "ugly reality" that the legislation would
"force insurance companies to fund, doctors to prescribe, and
pharmacies to dispense, abortifacient contraceptives."

 

Despite the fact that the Prevention First legislation does not fund
or expand access to abortion, PRI presses ahead with its transparent
misinformation campaign claiming contraception can act as an abortion.
They do this despite the evidence that such tactics helped drive many
self-described pro-life Americans (those that know the difference
between contraception and abortion) to vote for Obama. His
proven-to-work prevention policies enjoy wide public support.

PRI is not the only pro-life group ignoring the writing on the wall.
Those behind Colorado’s Amendment 48, which was handily defeated, have
only been encouraged by their spectacular failure. No less than seventy
five percent of Coloradoans, including many prominent pro-lifers like
Governor Bill Ritter, rejected the thinly veiled attack on
contraception. After such a resounding defeat, you might think that
campaign strategists would reconsider such an approach. Instead, one
day after the election, Amendment 48’s team apparently took this lesson
from the failure: if it doesn’t work once, try it again (and again).
One day after the election the amendment’s sponsor announced the launch
of the same exact effort in 17 states. According to Life News,
"Keith Mason, one of the Personhood Amendment organizers, says his
group plans to take the measure to every state where citizens can put
proposals on the ballot and to submit them over and over again until
they win."

Such obstinacy in the face of public consensus appears to be trying
the electorate’s collective patience. In South Dakota, for the second
time, the state’s deeply religious and conservative voters rejected the
ballot initiative that would have banned abortion. How did Leslee
Unruh, the abortion ban organizer, respond? Like a stalker. She told
the LA Times, "Third time’s the charm. We’re coming back. We’re not going away."

The electorate may need a restraining order.

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To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • paul-bradford

    They voted to elect our second pro-choice President. 

    You seem to be under the impression that Obama, once he is inaugurated, will be the second Pro-Choice president (the other being Bill Clinton); but he will actually be the third. Gerald Ford was Pro-Choice, as he explained in this Larry King interview:

     

    I think we’ve got to have, in the Republican Party, a big umbrella, so that people on the right, people on the left and people in the middle can work together. Now, that doesn’t mean they agree on every issue, and abortion is one where there is significant difference. Betty and I are pro-choice, but we can work with people who are pro-life on the broader issues involving Republican philosophy.

     

    By the way, a lot of Pro-Life Catholics voted for Obama because they believed that his approach to lowering the abortion rate was more likely to be effective than McCain’s approach (which, when you come down to it, is the same approach that’s proven ineffectual for 35 years.)

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    The electorate may need a restraining order.

    Seriously. There ought to be a limit of how many times a single idea can be proposed before there’s a mandatory “waiting period.”

  • invalid-0

    We lost. We wanted to make it illegal again for someone to pull the arms and legs off someone else. You won.

    Is that what you really want, to enable a stronger person to torture to death a weaker person by pulling off her legs and arms?

  • invalid-0

    That was hyperbolic nonsense. Try to develop some perspective, because you’ve apparently lost yours.

    And yes, you lost. Most of us do not want your religious beliefs to be imposed upon us.

    Now go find a hobby, and stop obsessing over foetuses.

  • therealistmom

    The vast majority of abortions in the US are performed in the first trimester. Even at the very END of the first trimester, and most early abortions are performed before this point, the embryo is 23-26 millimeters long- approximately one inch. There is no closed nervous system and there is still an embryonic tail present. A few reflexive motions have begun, but relatively little. The intestines have just started migrating from the umbilical cord to the body cavity. This is a proto-human incapable of feeling, thinking, or developing in any way outside the womb.

     

    If you want to equate the vacuum aspiration of this embryo with the prolonged torture of a sentient human by dismemberment you have a horrible sense of proportion in the real world.

  • cristina-page

    No, it’s just that I think being pro-choice means having certain standards. Given what Carter himself has said about abortion, I don’t consider him truly pro-choice. In 2005, he told the Washington Times he condemned all abortions. He said, "I never have felt that any abortion should be committed — I think each abortion is the result of a series of errors." And, “These things impact other issues on which [Mr. Bush] and I basically agree, I’ve never been convinced, if you let me inject my Christianity into it, that Jesus Christ would approve abortion."

    He went on to chastise the Democratic party for not being ‘welcoming" to those who are dedicated to undermining a woman’s right to choose.

    I don’t think not working to ban abortion is enough to earn one the description "pro-choice." That’s why I believe it’s safe to say President Bill Clinton is our first pro-choice President in word and deed.

    Paul, can you tell us a little about your organization?

  • invalid-0

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would much rather have the rabid anti-choicers spinning their wheels taking the personhood amendment on the road than putting resources into something that might actually succeed.

  • paul-bradford

    Cristina,

     

    I think you must have read my post too quickly.  I wasn’t talking about Jimmy Carter, the Democrat from Georgia; I was tallking about Gerald Ford, the Republican from Michigan.

     

    We had a situation in 1976 that would be unthinkable today: A Pro-Choice Republican was running for president against a Pro-Life Democrat.  Since then the Pro-Life movement has gotten itself married to the GOP which is an arrangement that has been harmful both to the Republican party and to the cause of Life.

     

    By the way, I sent an attachment to your birthcontrolwatch e-mail address.  I hope that will answer your questions about our organization. 

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Gordon,

     

    I’ll tell you this much, you and I agree that we Pro-Lifers have been spinning our wheels and that things will be a lot different when we put our resources into "something that might actually succeed." 

     

    I’d suggest putting some effort into promoting the idea that viable third trimester fetuses should be protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.  That means they should be documented by a proto-birth certificate, and that, like infants, they should be allowed to own property, that they should be able to obtain life insurance, that they should have names and social security numbers, that they can be chosen as benificiaries of a will, that they should be counted in the census, that — in the event of death — they should receive a death certificate and a proper burial.  Once people get their heads around that idea that viable fetuses actually count for something they might be more open to the idea of extending rights to younger people as well.

     

    On another point, could I persuade you to be open to the thought that not all Pro-Lifers are anti-choice?  Some of us are interested in cultivating an environment where women choose life for their children.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • cristina-page

    Paul, I apologize. You are right, I did read your post too quickly. However, Ford really wasn’t a champion of women’s reproductive rights either. Here’s how Wikipedia summarizes his position:

     

    "As president, Ford’s position on abortion was that he supported "a federal constitutional amendment that would permit each one of the 50 States to make the choice."[62] This had also been his position as House Minority Leader in response to the 1973 Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade, which he opposed.[63] Ford came under criticism for a 60 Minutes interview his wife Betty gave in 1975, in which she stated that Roe v. Wade was a "great, great decision."[64] During his later life, Ford would identify as pro-choice.[65]"

     

    For all intents and purposes, while in office his position was basically the same as McCain’s.

     

    Thanks for sending some information about your group. It’ll probably take a while to get to me through that address. If you wouldn’t mind, can you send it to cristina@prochoicemovement.com? Also, I think readers here would be interested to know about your work. So, if you had a moment, could you post a little about it? Thanks so much, Cristina

  • invalid-0

    Two points, Mr. Bradford:

    Since the 14th Amendment contains the word born, and not some other word, what you actually propose is repealing the 14th Amendment and replacing it with something else. This proposal is identical to the Personhood Amendment, except that it replaces the arbitrary point of fertilization with the arbitrary point of six months from fertilization. While I agree this is an improvement, it raises the practical concerns of requiring someone to determine exactly when the third trimester began, and when viability exists. The tone of your post makes it quite clear that you do not think the pregnant woman herself should be involved in these decisions, but that she should be coerced by some agency of government. Furthermore, you as much as stated that, if this came to pass, you would then set to work on extending it to nonviable fetuses as well. The real problem with these proposals, as far as I am concerned, is that they boil down to declaring that, at some time after she conceives, a woman is no longer a citizen with legal rights, but has only whatever rights accrue to her from her fetus as its carrier. I will oppose all such assaults on the autonomy of women so long as there is breath in my body. (By the way, I am male.)

    Second, I have no objection to cultivating an environment in which women choose to give birth rather than abort. My objection is that, in my personal experience, no one who identifies himself/herself as pro-life actually wants to do that. The specifics of their proposals always reduce to some form of coercion and/or misinformation, such as presenting religious belief as scientific fact. They are pro-choice as long as no one actually makes a choice contrary to their religious beliefs. If you are an exception in that regard, I wish you success.

  • paul-bradford

     The tone of your post makes it quite clear that you do not think the pregnant woman herself should be involved in these decisions, but that she should be coerced by some agency of government. Furthermore, you as much as stated that, if this came to pass, you would then set to work on extending it to nonviable fetuses as well. The real problem with these proposals, as far as I am concerned, is that they boil down to declaring that, at some time after she conceives, a woman is no longer a citizen with legal rights, but has only whatever rights accrue to her from her fetus as its carrier. I will oppose all such assaults on the autonomy of women so long as there is breath in my body.

     

    Gordon,

     

    You leave me practically breathless with the scope and depth of your assumptions about my position.  Let me make a suggestion: do as I do and assume that the person you’re discussing things with has the ability to express her/his opinion on her/his own without your having to rely upon ‘mind reading’.  When I have a question about someone’s beliefs I allow her/him the opportunity to express those beliefs — I try very hard not to shove words down a person’s throat.

     

    This is what I believe: There are fetal rights and there are maternal rights — some people oppose abortion because they have very little regard for the people whose bodies are being captivated, battered and disfigured by pregnancy, other people oppose abortion because they have a very high regard for the dignity of the lives of the unborn.  The fact that you assumed I was in the former camp, rather than the latter truly distresses me.  I won’t ask for an apology — but I’d like you to consider how you would feel if you were in my position.

     

    Obviously women can and do ‘make the call’ when fetal rights and maternal rights conflict.  I don’t relish the idea of government coercing women to carry pregnancies to term against their will.  I’m looking for something more rational.  I’m looking for an upgrade in societal norms — the more people respect the lives of the unborn the more likely it is that any given woman will act responsibly regarding the life of her child.  Pro-Lifers who threaten women with coercion make things harder for the unborn because they change the conversation away from whether a woman should have an abortion to whether she may have one.  The first question boils down to the matter of whether fetuses have rights, the second question boils down to the matter of whether mothers have rights.  I’m happy to argue the affirmative on the first question but I have no interest in arguing the negative on the second.

     

    I suspect that you have heard people claim that abortion is murder.  I make no such claim.  To my mind abortion is a rather extreme example of age discrimination.

     

    As far as the word ‘born’ being in the Fourteenth Amendment — it hasn’t stopped the Courts from recognizing Fourteenth Amendment rights for corporations.  You may want to look at Vaillancourt v Medical Center Hospital of Vermont for an example of a court recognizing a viable fetus’ right to life.  You may also remember that the State of Texas, in arguing for the respondant in Roe v Wade argued that the fetal life in question was protected under the 14th Amendment.  Judge Blackmon dismissed that argument because the fetus in question was not viable.  As to whether viable fetuses can be so protected I’m not sure that has been decided.  Vaillancourt never made it to the Supreme Court.

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Mr. Bradford,

    I offer you my apology even though you did not ask for it. I have simply never encountered a pro-lifer before who cared anything about the rights or welfare of pregnant women, nor one who did not believe abortion is murder. So, I assumed, wrongly, that you were like all the others. Thanks for clearing the air.

    That said, I think there is no possibility that the society you envision will ever exist. I think the day will never come when most people “respect the lives of the unborn” for the simple reason that I do not believe a fetus is a human being, nor do I believe there is any scientific, medical, or historical justification for calling it one. That is, of course, just my opinion, with which I am sure you will never agree. I certainly have no problem with you, or anyone else, advocating a contrary position, so long as it does not involve coercion. I cannot, after all, prove that I am right about this, any more than you can prove that I am wrong.

    I have no comment about 14th Amendment rights for corporations, since I know nothing about that subject. With regard to the rights of a viable fetus, given my unshakable belief that a fetus is not a person, it cannot have legal rights, and I think any court decision to the contrary was made in error. I would not encourage anyone to “respect the lives of the unborn” because I think the whole notion is simply wrongheaded. I think women (and their male sex partners) should take the responsibility not to initiate a pregnancy they do not expect to see through to term, but that is my opinion of what adult behavior should be and has nothing to do with the lives of the unborn.

    Part of Roe v. Wade conceded that, since the scientific, medical, and theological establishments could not agree on when life begins, it was not the prerogative of the Supreme Court to make that determination. This is back to what a woman may do, rather than what she should do, but that is what courts decide.

    Unless you have other points to raise, I think we will just have to agree to disagree. Again, I apologize for putting words into your mouth, but you are something new in my experience.

  • paul-bradford

     

    I think women (and their male sex partners) should take the responsibility not to initiate a pregnancy they do not expect to see through to term, but that is my opinion of what adult behavior should be and has nothing to do with the lives of the unborn. 

    We’re in complete agreement about that; but, in my case, my regard for the lives of the unborn simply makes the issue more urgent.  To my way of thinking sex (or, more to the point, procreative sex) is a matter of life and death.  Life if it leads to a birth, death if it leads to an abortion.  Surgery, for example, is also a matter of life and death and we have high standards for the behavior of a surgeon.  We should also have high standards for the behavior of those who engage in procreative sex.  More should be done to dissuade men from impregnating a woman against her will — the man bears at least 50% of the responsibility.

     

    I think the day will never come when most people "respect the lives of the unborn" for the simple reason that I do not believe a fetus is a human being, nor do I believe there is any scientific, medical, or historical justification for calling it one.

     

    There have been societies where people don’t believe that women have human rights, or that dark skinned people have human rights, or that lower caste people have human rights, or that foreigners have human rights.  We consider our society better, not because we have a superior understanding of scientific, medical or historical matters — but because we have a relatively liberal view of extending human rights to those who are ‘different’.  Our view of human rights may become more expansive still, or it may not; but it’s not dependent upon science, it’s dependent upon our willingness to show respect for people who aren’t the same as we are.

     

    Part of Roe v. Wade conceded that, since the scientific, medical, and theological establishments could not agree on when life begins, it was not the prerogative of the Supreme Court to make that determination.

     

    The Supreme Court won’t decide when life begins, nor will the legislature, nor the president.  Neither will each individual woman decide.  It will be decided by societal norms and we all have an influence on that.

     

    How will we ever come to an end to abortion?  Well, I ask myself how we ever got an end to human sacrifice.  It isn’t because we expend a lot of effort prosecuting those who engage in human sacrifice, it’s because we’ve established norms that make it virtually unthinkable (even though, in our past, it was a vital part of what we considered essential).  I look forward to a future where no woman is jailed for getting an abortion, where no woman is punished for getting an abortion, where no woman is criticized for getting an abortion and where no woman is frustrated by an inability to procure an abortion.  In this future society abortion will be as unthinkable as human sacrifice is in ours.

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice