Roundup: Welcome to the Culture War

The Republicans who were swept into office in November claim repeatedly that their focus is to be on economic policies over all other issues.  But it hasn’t taken long for them to give in to pressure to engineer a plan for a conservative social agenda for 2011, and some are calling it a blue print for a culture war over reproductive health.

From the Tuscon Sentinel:

Such calls to downplay social issues met a firestorm of criticism from fellow conservatives. Days after the GOProud letter, more than 150 Tea Party activists slammed it and shot off a letter of their own to Republican leaders, warning that “America is a conservative country. We expect conservative leadership.”

Rep. Paul Ryan voiced similar views, saying that pro-life issues cannot be placed on a back burner. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee complained that these issues are not “bargaining chips.” And a pro-life coalition released a statement opposing any truce on abortion. “A truce would suggest there are issues more important than life, that abortion is somehow a negotiable issue,” the statement said. “It is not.”

But it’s hard to really have a culture war when your own side is so willing to aid the enemy.  Via Mother Jones:

Both bills [End Taxpayer Funded Abortion Bill and Defund Planned Parenthood Bill] could probably pass the House with just Republican votes. But they won’t need to. Democrats who oppose abortion rights are eager to help—despite their recent whupping at the hands of their earstwhile conservative allies. In the midterms, conservative opponents of abortion rights made pro-life Dems their top targets. That effort was incredibly successful, as pro-life Dems lost re-election at a significantly higher rate than their pro-choice colleagues. Nearly half of the Democrats who voted for the anti-abortion Stupak amendment to the health care bill will no longer be in Congress next year. (By comparison, under a quarter of all House Dems were defeated.)

But if the pro-life Dems hold a grudge, they’re not showing it. Many of the defeated Dems are co-sponsors of Smith’s bill, which could easily garner several dozen Democratic votes. The surviving Dems are, if anything, even more gung-ho about the idea. Rep. Dan Lipinski, a pro-life Dem from Illinois, introduced the bill with Smith in July. (Lipinski’s spokesman said he was unavailable to comment on the bill.) “It’s the general consensus of the country that people don’t want federal funding of abortion,” argues Kristen Day, the head of Democrats for Life of America. “So to make the Hyde Amendment permanent would be a real positive step.”

Is it any wonder that with anti-abortion Democrats developing a very distinct case of Stockholm syndrome that we suddenly find ourselves in situations where we have William Saletan thinking he somehow is in charge of finding a “compromise” on abortion and contraception that no one ever asked him to look for?

I’ve heard from other pro-choicers that 14 weeks is a more reasonable deadline than 12. But whether it’s 12, 14, or 16, we’re talking about a significant rollback from viability. And based on Garrow’s analysis, Roe could be revised accordingly without having to “go.” In short, the second-trimester offer is a live option.

So let’s talk about what pro-choicers would get in exchange. Douthat offers more contraceptive funding. That would help, but it isn’t what I’m asking for. I’m asking for something more difficult and truer to his beliefs. I’m asking him and other moral conservatives not to abandon their critique of contraception, but to reconsider its implications.

Why exactly is making second trimester abortion illegal somehow a bargaining chip for providing better access to birth control, something that should be a priority for all people who want to reduce unintended pregnancies?

They say the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but in the new abortion culture divide, all I’m seeing are a whole lot of enemies.

Mini Roundup: Apple has pulled an anti-gay, anti-abortion iPhone and iPad ap, and the creators are pushing to have it reinstated.

December 2, 2010

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  • derekp

    Limiting abortion to 12-14 weeks isn’t so unreasonable.  France and Germany already do that. Italy only allows second trimester abortions to protect a woman’s health and life or if there is a fetal anomaly. Even the Netherlands, a pretty liberal place mind you, will only allow second trimester abortions to be done in a hospital with the consent of two physicians. In these countries there is better access to contraception and they have lower abortion rates than the U.S. I think this is the compromise Saletan is hoping for.

  • squirrely-girl

    In a sense, women are already limiting themselves to that 12 to 14 week marker. The overwhelming majority of abortions are obtained before 12 weeks… so what does an external limit actually accomplish? Keeping those women with complications or fetal anomalies pregnant to appease somebody else? Great compromise. :/

    In these countries there is better access to contraception…

    Things that make you go hmmmm…

  • ldan

    Not to mention, how many of those are countries with universal medical coverage, so that it’s a simple matter to get a 1st trimester abortion? Here, the financial barrier alone is enough to delay many women into later weeks.


    So sure, once we have universal medical coverage (that covers abortion, unlike the current health care reform), easy contraceptive access, and universal education that would allow everyone to make informed choices regarding reproduction…then limiting abortion to the first trimester except in cases of health risk or fetal abnormality doesn’t seem like such a huge compromise.


    Ideologically, it kind of still is. But if we actually got all of those conditions in place, I’m pragmatic enough to think it would be worth it and a *huge* improvement over what we have. I’d prefer a fetal viability-based limit to the (highly arbitrary) 12-14 week limit, even being pragmatic.


    But, we’re not going to get those conditions any time soon (I’m not even holding my breath that it will be in my lifetime).