The advertising has begun in South Dakota for the No on Six campaign, attempting to repeal that state's restrictive abortion ban passed by the legislature. The first ad from South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families (SDCHF) introduces the prohibition on abortion and asks if "the victim of rape or incest should be left with no option" or "the mother whose health would be seriously threatened" and concludes "it just goes too far."
HBO debuted the special "Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater" last night (see preview below). With all the moralizing we hear these days – especially about private human relations – I thought it was worth rereading these words that were spoken 25 years ago and yet are still relevant today:
"However, on religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their [img_assist|nid=575|title=Barry Goldwater|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=80|height=100]religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.
There isn't one, but maybe there is something like it… I subscribe to the RSS feeds for Family Research Council’s (FRC) “Alerts,” and I was struck recently by the 6 new ones that appeared in my inbox:
- “Volunteers for Virginia Marriage Amendment needed”
- “Volunteers need to help pass marriage amendment in Wisconsin”
- “South Dakota faces ballot initiatives on marriage, abortion, and gambling”
- “Tennessee marriage amendment needs your help”
- “Effort to defend traditional marriage underway in Idaho”
- “South Carolina elected officials need to support the marriage amendment”
This is not the FRC PAC sending out these messages. This is FRC’s main office for the 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is legally bound from engaging in partisan electoral activities. Ballot initiatives are technically apolitical — after all, it is not inherently Republican to want to ban gay marriage and abortion (wouldn’t both be an exercise of “big government” intrusion?). They have been the means for political engagements for non-profit organizations in the past, but I don’t know that I’ve seen such a clear example of this scale of activism until this one.
It took bad poll numbers and a Senate hold on the nomination of the FDA nominee to get Plan B approved for women over 18, but had the FDA followed the scientific evidence, it would have been approved long ago with no age restriction. The obvious reason: the Bush Administration playing politics to appease social conservatives when scientific facts did not fit their agenda.
When it comes to disease prevention, something that isn't (or shouldn't be) tainted with ideology, they wouldn't play politics, would they? I mean, who could possibly be against disease prevention, right?
The GOP Senate primary in Rhode Island has taken a nasty turn with one of those untraceable sort of groups that pop up every election year and miraculously have loads of money to spend targeting candidates with negative media. The organization, "Common Sense 2006" is responsible for a push poll asking voters if they will support Lincoln Chafee as a pro-choice candidate. If they say yes they are then treated to a graphic description of an abortion, called baby killers and unpatirotic.
These are the tactics of the radical right. This is how they campaign and this is how they govern. No one who has paid attention to politics for the last 30 years is surprised. What is surprising, is that these tactics still work, that the mainstream media remains inept at exposing them, and that the media seems "shocked" when the same things happen every two years in different races, with different groups around the country. Reporting them as "dirty tricks" only reinforces the message that sponsors want to send: politics is dirty.
Ahead of this November’s elections, RH Reality Check will increasingly be looking at issues in the political landscape and how they relate to reproductive health. This is one of those cases.
Tuesday’s LA Times ran an article that included a quote few of you are going to believe. Under the headline “Christian Coalition is Splintering,” John W. Giles of the Christian Coalition (CC) of Alabama is quoted: “The Christian Coalition is drifting to the left.”
If there was any shred of doubt left about where Rep. Katherine Harris (FL) stands on the political spectrum, there is none now. She has moved beyond conservative, beyond even far right, and set up camp somewhere in the exurbs of funny fringe land. She, the woman who presided over one of the great election debacles in all of US history, damaging people's faith in democracy, now says the founding fathers never intended for church and state to be separate.
She said that the separation of church and state is, "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers. And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women," then "we're going to have a nation of secular laws (like abortion). That's not what our Founding Fathers intended, and that certainly isn't what God intended."
Let's check in with Thomas Jefferson on that:
Almighty God hath created the mind free … No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion …
Rep. Harris' comments are evidence of a larger rift within the nation, and in particular the Republican Party, as social conservative ideologues are increasingly being held accountable for their reckless rhetoric.
Nancy Keenan is the President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Editor's Note: Our coverage this week has been dedicated to the Tornto AIDS Conference, but this poll, released this morning from NARAL Pro-Choice America, is important news we want to bring to our readers. In doing so we also note the increasing importance and interconnectedness of reproductive health, choice, contracpetion and disease prevention efforts in the public dialogue in America today.
On the reproductive rights front, the message is clear: Americans are tired of divisive attacks on a woman's right to choose and in November's election, they are ready to vote for a positive change.
NARAL Pro-Choice America just released a poll that shows pro-choice candidates have an opportunity to capitalize on the public's support for commonsense solutions to prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion. Nearly 77 percent of voters polled agree that the government and politicians should stay out of a woman's personal and private decision about whether or not to have an abortion.