Battlepanda: Don't confuse a compromise with a wedge


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Don't confuse a compromise with a wedge

Look, I'm all for "Safe, Legal and Rare." But Tim Ryan's "95-10" legislation (so named because it seeks to eliminate 95% of abortions within 10 years) is a politically misguided move that will do nothing to appease the opposition and will in the process give away the moral ground of the pro-choice movement en-route to the inevitable selling out women's right some years down the line.

First of all, look at the measures it calls for: The expansion of WIC, making the adoption tax credit permanent, emphasising sex-ed and greater availability of contraceptions. Even if you find all those things worthy measures, look at the context in which they are placed: It's not to help women or feed families, it's so that we can prevent 95% of baby-murder. That is, the whole premise of this bill assumes that abortion is such a terrible moral wrong that we need all these measures to minimize it. Once you go down that road, the right-wing crazies who want to take away reproductive rights have won half the battle. And look at the the important, concrete rights the bill eagerly signs away as it rushes into compromise -- late-term abortion bans and parental notification laws. Perhaps its true what Jonathan says, nobody "likes" late-term abortions. But then, nobody really "likes" divorces or layoffs either, yet they are still legal. Instead of getting suckered into playing the "how many angels on the head of a pin" game of determining exactly when a clump of cells become a baby, liberals should be hammering on the fact that it is a greater sin to force a woman to reproduce against her will. I say this over and over again -- in a polarized, partisan political environment, don't make the mistake of diving for the center. By the time you get there, your opponent would have dragged the debate to the right already.

Nothing good can come of this. Say the bill passes and in 10 years, we do not reduce the abortion rate by 95%. The right-wing can now say "we tried the liberal way, and it failed" and we would have no comebacks. Even if by some miracle, the bill really manages to do exactly what it was meant to, do you really think the religious right would be happy to leave things at that? No, of course not. Being anti-abortion was never just about the fate of the foetus, it was also about making sure women who had sex just for the heck of it were properly punished for not keeping their legs shut. Otherwise there is just no good explanation for the pro-life side's opposition to the morning after pill.