A choice to divide

Next time the Republican campaign opens its mouth in praise of the superiority of rural folks, consider this, from Harrup:
You'd never know from the recent Republican convention that America was about to remember the terrorist attack on New York, when 411 city firefighters, police and medical personnel died trying to save people they had never met.
Yes, exactly. The Republican party's entire approach to leadership is based on division, and"us" vs. "them" philosophy that tells people If you don't look, think, pray and act like us, you're out.

Abortion is in my opinion the central message of division delivered by the Republican party. I think it's a fair statement that everyone, Republican and Democrat alike, would like to see fewer abortions. But I firmly believe that the Republican party, in spite of cries to legislate abortion out of existence, doesn't really want that.

What the Republican party wants is to keep abortion at the center of American politics, where it can avoid the key question: Why do 1.4M American women even have to seek abortions every year? There has been no substantive downward change in abortion statistics during Republican administrations since Roe v. Wade. The Republican party, however, claims success by virtue of its message and its efforts to stack the Supreme Court. And we, American women and the American people, stay mired in a polarized debate that does nothing to address the problem of why so many abortions are necessary in the first place.

I don't like the labels "pro life" and "pro choice;" they push people into camps, neither of which may correctly represent their points of view. For example, I support a woman's right to choose whether or not to take a pregnancy to term. But at the same time, I wonder why we aren't doing more to make abortion as birth control unnecessary. The overwhelming majority of abortions take place for reasons of finance and timing; many, I would like to think the majority of these, could be avoided with effective birth control. From a purely common-sensical point of view, I think everyone can agree that surgical birth control doesn't do American women the best service.

While standing firmly behind a women's right to choose, the Democratic party states consistently that it supports effective sex education and more effective methods of birth control. The Republican party, however, stymies this common sense approach with cries for abstinence-only sex ed, now being delivered from the mouth of a candidate with a pregnant teen-ager at home.

It makes no common sense, but great political sense: abortion divides us, and the Republican party likes it that way.

Figuring out why millions of American women face unplanned pregancies and make the difficult choice to terminate them is hard.

Lip service, with or without lipstick, is a piece of cake.
Edited 9-14-08 to add: A reader asked a valid question: ... where is the answer to the question regarding the rights of unborn children? My response is here.


abebech said…
"But I firmly believe that the Republican party, in spite of cries to legislate abortion out of existence, doesn't really want that."

Me too -- imagine what we would all talk about if we quit using this as a wedge (and I think that's precisely what they don't want to do).
Margie said…
Abebech, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. And "wedge issue" is exactly right.

AP, I hope you didn't remove your comment because you disagree - I expect disagreement on this point of view, and honestly do want to hear what others have to say, on both sides of this.
Sarah said…
I respect your thoughts and opinions so much, and agree with many of them. Yet where is the answer to the question regarding the rights of unborn children?
abebech said…
I thought of you -- and this post, and its nuance -- last night when Palin's response (in THAT moment) to "the question" was actually so much like Obama's. No one wants "babies to die" and until we end the vitriol we won't be able to really talk about our value on LIFE, how to act from a consistent ethic. A culture of life is not _just_ about abortion . . .
Margie said…
Sarah, that's a valid question - I'm going to edit the post with my thoughts on that.
Anonymous said…
Beautifully written. I agree 110% with what you've written here.

Anna said…
Exactly. There are more broad spectrum issues like healthcare!
Anonymous said…
Just to add to the discussion. Palin supports the discussion of condoms in schools. In case anyone wants to use her situation as a "see what you get if you preach abstinence only" argument.
Margie said…
Hi, Anon, thanks for commenting. Yes, Ms. Palin has said a few things that might lead one to believe that she is moderate on sex ed, but she also opposes providing any explicit information about sex in sex ed programs (which in my opinion makes them far less effective). Additionally, Alaska applied in 2006 for Federal abstinence only sex-ed dollars. Her message is mixed, but leads me to believe that were she elected, abstinence is all she would promote.

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