Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Background on Obama’s Present Votes on Abortion

I am thoroughly grateful to Lynn Harris article on Salon about Barack Obama's handful of "present" votes on abortion measures in the Illinois Senate. The story’s been getting out there like a whisper campaign (only not whispering) but the message the story is supposed to convey goes something like this: “These present votes show Obama isn’t going to defend reproductive rights as vigorously as you might think. He’s only going to do it when it’s convenient or easy but he’s not going to stick his political neck out defending abortion rights.”

Harris’ reporting provides a lot of context about the votes but what it seems to break down to is there was a bit of schism between Illinois NOW and NARAL of Illinois and Planned Parenthood. The later two wanted the bills to fail, and in order to get that, they needed to coax some friendly Republicans to side with them by voting “present” – and Obama was kind of used as ‘cover by numbers’ to coax this into happening. In other words, Obama could have voted “no” but if he had voted “no” it’s possible the pro-choice side might have lost some “present” votes from Republicans who would have switched to “yes.” (At least so goes the theory…)

This makes the schism a lot more understandable to me. It’s basically between an organization that had a stronger group of political purists and one that was more practical or realistic. (Basically like the differences between Green party voters and progressive democratic party voters). I’m more of a realist, if LBJ-canniness will get the job done, then so be it. And it’s also good to ask, do you want to be right or do you want to succeed? And can you achieve your goals without being so shrill as to turn off your allies.

State NOW organizations tend to be a little more of the purist strand than your statewide Planned Parenthood will be. And if Planned Parenthood of Illinois either thought up, or signed off on Obama’s strategy of voting present, then the explanation makes sense.

Anyway major love to Lynn Harris for ending the article as she does.

Anyway. That's the story. Make of it what you will: Mountain? Molehill? Obama's "present" votes, cannily pragmatic or lame? If "cannily pragmatic," then is he not the Man Who'll Change Politics that he says he is? Should we, while we're at it, worry about his law-nerdily understated support for Roe as worded? Or the fact that -- if
you ask me -- neither Dem seems to get that even parental consent with judicial bypass is unacceptable, too? Or should we quit splitting hairs, given that anyone's better on, well, everything than John "'Moderate' My Ass" McCain?

Damn straight! Which candidate is actually going to push for eliminating parental consent laws and not just try to knock them down. I’m not convinced that either one will actually put any kind of political capital working to expand access to abortion nationwide -- only try to keep it from shrinking to “only legal in blue states.”


Anonymous said...

Yeah, but on the bright side (or dark side, depending on your perspective) as an Illinois state senator he voted against the Born Alive Infants bill, which would have protected babies who survived late-term abortions. Even Barbara Boxer voted for this bill on the federal level. Pretty creepy. So you guys should still be comfortable voting for him.

Jim in Cleveland

Anonymous said...

I have been reading about this idea of not protecting infants who actually survive the abortions, and it's crazy to think anyone would want to kill them and justify it AFTER they are out of the womb. It's horrible. I don't care where people stand on abortion, but killing infants outside the womb really IS murder.

NewsCat said...

Okay Brian I'm not sure where you really stand on abortion, you might just be an anti-choice person, but regardless let's not conflate "living infants" with abortions.

To those that are wondering, nearly all abortion are performed in the first trimester.

Quote: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 60.5 percent of legal abortions occur within the first eight weeks of gestation, and 88.2 percent are performed within the first 12 weeks. Only 1.4 percent occur after 20 weeks (CDC, 2006).

Third trimester abortions are incredibly rare. Not only are they incredibly rare, they are often impossible to obtain in many states, even in cases where the fetus cannot survive outside of the womb. (Like in situations when the fetus is missing half its head).

(I suppose Jim in Cleveland thinks that any woman must be forced to carry the pregnancy to term even if the baby has cephalic disorder. Because most of the laws banning third trimister abortions tend to block abortions IN THOSE CASES, because god forbid a doctor become scared the law is going to put him in jail, so why take the risk.)

So can we please stop throwing around this image of healthy nearly-nine month pregnancies being termined on mere whims. IT DOES NOT HAPPEN. Women get abortions in the first, or second trimester. THESE ARE NOT PAST VIABILITY. And please spare me the line about how are super science keeps the line of viability moving. It doesn't move much beyond 23 weeks.

This is why the "Born Alive" act was just propaganda to make everyone think that "abortion=nine month pregangncy" when it doesn't. And the fact that a few cowardly normally pro-choice politicians voted for it, its only testimony to how powerful the distortion works. Guess what they named the "spy on americans and get away with everyone act>" U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act. Oh wait you meant the name of a bill might not be entirely a good reflection of what the act does? I'm SHOCKED!

Anonymous said...

Wow. And I thought you were reasonable for a pro-abort.

NewsCat said...

"pro-abort?" So by that term you mean to say I clearly want EVERYONE'S BABIES ABORTED. BOOGA-BOOGA!!!

Yes down with babies. Even planned children. That's me. I chase after happily pregnant women and tell them they'd be sooooo much happier if they would just abort their child.

I'm not "pro-abortion" I'm PRO-CHOICE. I'm not for forcing any woman to have to bare children when she doesn't want to. That's hardly "pro-abortion."

I'm perfectly reasonable. I just don't appreciate when people use incorrect fact to suggest as reasons to ban abortion. Such as some kind of notion that what is being abortion are viable-almost-term infants. That is simply not what abortions look like.

Anonymous said...

It is not that you are against babies, it is that you don't see them as babies until post-crowning. Babies are cute and cuddly, unless you can't see them or they are not fully developed or they have a severe disability.

It is funny that you object to the term "pro-abort," after continually using the loaded term "anti-choice" instead of pro-life. To me, the terms should reflect what you believe to be a right--you believe you should have the right to abort, and I believe a person should have the right to life, as stated in the Declaration of Independence. When I call you pro-abort, I am attempting to minimalize your political framing, which is to emphasize that you believe in a "choice" for the woman only (rather than the child, who has no right to choose) to do something I believe she has no natural right to do.

Your term "anti-choice" is also misleading--women have a number of choices when facing an unwanted pregnancy. I am not anti-choice--in fact, I believe the father should have a choice as to whether his child will be born as well, which you are decidedly against. In that way, it is you who are anti-choice.

The terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are merely political swordplay. I certainly don't think you want every woman to have an abortion. But I also don't think your side (I don't your views enough on this) is particularly interested in presenting an objective view of what the "choice" is to scared women with an unwanted pregnancy.

Jim in Cleveland