Hillary, Abortion, and the Partisan Juggernaut

Even those who might be otherwise viewed as ideologues often get caught up with the juggernaut of partisanship, putting preservation of the party over advocacy or principle.

We’ve seen support among conservatives for changing historic Senate filibuster rules because the Republicans are frustrated by Democratic misuse of the rule that protects the minority party. But even more blatant is the failure of the pro-life movement to recognize and even praise unquestionable shifts within the Democratic Party on abortion.

“Since its defeats in the November elections, nothing has put the fractured soul of the Democratic Party on display more vividly than abortion. Party leaders, including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and the new chairman, Howard Dean, have repeatedly signaled an effort to recalibrate the party’s thinking about new restrictions on abortion.” (Source)

When Senator Clinton moderated her public position on abortion restrictions, infuriating the pro-abortion cabal, the only thing we heard from conservatives was skepticism and analysis of the enemy’s political calculation.

William Saletan wrote in Slate:

[Clinton said]: “There is no reason why government cannot do more to educate and inform and provide assistance so that the choice guaranteed under our constitution either does not ever have to be exercised or only in very rare circumstances.”

Does not ever have to be exercised. I searched Google and Nexis for parts of that sentence tonight and got no hits. Is the press corps asleep? Hillary Clinton just endorsed a goal I’ve never heard a pro-choice leader endorse. Not safe, legal, and rare. Safe, legal, and never.”

Senator Clinton’s move is no doubt a political adjustment, not a change of heart. But if we discount changes by politicians that are, well, political, we will discount much that is done in Washington (maybe a good idea).

Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t hear any pro-life conservatives celebrating this shift by Clinton. All I heard were observations about how early in the election cycle she was moderating her positions in order to be electable. I’m sure she is doing just that, and that is the right political commentary. But the pro-life movement should be celebrating any new successes and praising Democrats for the changes that are being made.

And it’s not just Hillary. Other examples:

Senate Democrats named a professed opponent of abortion rights, Harry Reid of Nevada, as the leader in the Senate.

Many Democrats supported another abortion opponent, Timothy J. Roemer, for the party’s chairmanship.

The party has recruited Robert P. Casey Jr., Pennsylvania’s treasurer and a Catholic opponent of abortion (and son of one of the party’s renowned abortion opponents) to challenge Senator Rick Santorum.

One Republican Senator has noticed. Pro-life Senator Sam Brownback, (R- Kansas) said: “Just the language that allows for the Democrats to open up and even encourage people to run for office as a pro-life candidate is an enormously positive development for me.”

(I guess the pro-life groups are otherwise occupied. I just noticed that the American Life League has announced its National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day. I’m sure that will change a lot of hearts and minds.

The list of thoroughly pro-life Democrats is short, mind you (Note the website of Democrats For Life), but progress on the issues of life on both sides of the aisle should be praised by pro-life advocates, if indeed saving lives is more important than electing Republicans.

–James Jewell
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About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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