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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama and “Abortion Reduction”

Some of you may remember the skirmishing over the language about abortion in the Democratic platform earlier this year. A straightforward endorsement of abortion rights was combined with a commitment to help reduce the need for abortion. The latter material was widely hailed as a victory by those Democrats–many of them supporters of abortion restrictions–who consider “abortion reduction” the common ground on which pro-choice and pro-life Americans can cooperate.
While it’s always an accomplishment when platform drafters can make everybody happy, the concept of “abortion reduction” by means other than direct restrictions on the legality of abortion is not a universal crowdpleaser, particularly among reproductive rights advocates who view this approach as an unacceptable concession to the assumption that abortion is inherently immoral.
At The American Prospect, Sarah Posner has a solid write-up today on how the platform skirmishing might play itself out during the first year of the Obama administration, with “abortion reduction” legislation sponsored by Democratic Reps. Tim Ryan of OH and Rosa DeLauro of CT being the lightning rod:

Passing a comprehensive bill like Ryan-DeLauro could be complicated not only by the reluctance of reproductive-rights advocates to get behind it but also by the refusal of some Catholic groups, under pressure from church hierarchy, to endorse a bill that includes contraception. Many evangelicals are similarly loathe to endorse contraception, as evidenced by the forced resignation of Richard Cizik, the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, after he told National Public Radio’s Fresh Air host Terri Gross that he favored government supplying contraception [note: Cizik also signaled he was becoming more open to gay marriage, which may have been an even bigger deal].

Overshadowing this debate are doubts about the exact position of Barack Obama, who has an impeccable pro-choice voting record but who has also done a lot to encourage “abortion reduction” supporters.

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