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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Higher Ground on Abortion

In sharp contrast to the president’s evasive and deceptive phone-in comments on abortion yesterday, Hillary Rodham Clinton provided a direct, provocative pro-choice message that challenged people on both sides of the divide to help make abortion safe, legal and rare. The details are in today’s New Dem Dispatch.
The impressive thing about Clinton’s message is that it simultaneously refutes the extremist, all-abortion-is-sacred stereotype the Right has so successfully reinforced about pro-choice Democrats, while also helping expose the genuine extremism of pro-life activists and the Republican Party that’s given them an implicit promise to recriminalize abortion through Supreme Court appointments.
Most notably, Clinton pointed out that an estimated 15,000 abortions a year–or about twenty times the number of so-called “partial-birth” abortions that the GOP so loves to talk about–involve victims of sexual assault. She suggests that such abortions could be largely avoided if “day-after” pills were made available over-the-counter.
Many people who are troubled by abortion or want to see the numbers go down would agree. But the hard-core right-to-life position holds that day-after pills, like intra-uterine devices, are actually “abortifacients” morally indistiguishable from late-term abortions or for that matter, infanticide. They don’t like to talk about that publicly; proposals like Clinton’s force such extremist views right out into the open.
True, some abortion rights ultras will denounce Clinton’s position as a “move to the right” or a “compromise with the enemy,” but let’s be clear that she did not change her position on abortion rights one iota. She simply explored a higher ground from which pro-choice advocates can speak to the non-absolutist majority and actually expand support for the right to choose.

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