FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Abortion and the Election

In a November 6 speech, Democratic Party powerbroker Bill Clinton blamed John Kerry’s defeat on liberal Democrats “for not engaging the Christian evangelical community in a serious discussion of what it would take to promote a real culture of life.”

While Democrats debate how much further to distance the party from a pro-choice position, the Christian right has gone on an anti-abortion offensive. Right-wing crackpot Jerry Falwell launched the Faith and Values Coalition last week, as a “21st century version of the Moral Majority.”

Even in its 1980s heyday, the Moral Majority was never anything close to a popular majority. The same is true today. Although Christian congregations ran the Republicans’ get-out-the-vote machine this election year, the so-called “values voters” represented just a small minority of the electorate.

But while liberal Democrats have been crying in their beer since the election, the emboldened forces of the Christian right have been demanding payback for Bush’s victory. They want, among other things, immediate progress toward outlawing abortion–protesting pro-choice Republican Sen. Arlen Specter for predicting anti-abortion judges appointed by Bush are unlikely to survive a Senate filibuster.

Although Specter has never opposed a Bush court nominee, and subsequently stated, “I have supported many pro-life nominees,” protesters demanded that Specter be denied leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It sends the exact wrong message to the core of the Republican Party that helped win this election,” sputtered Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition.

Bob Jones III, president of anti-interracial dating Bob Jones University, urged Bush to purge “moderate” Republicans from the White House. “If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them,” Jones warned Bush.

Anti-choice pharmacists across the country are even taking a stand against the evils of birth control, refusing to fill prescriptions for oral contraceptives–including for rape victims. “I refuse to dispense a drug with a significant mechanism to stop human life,” declared Karen Brauer, president of the 1,500-member Pharmacists for Life International.

With less fanfare, Christian conservatives have been mobilizing local grassroots campaigns in communities such as Rockland County, N.Y., where Catholics oppose the county’s plan to budget $19,070 for the local Planned Parenthood clinic. The fact that the clinic does not perform surgical abortions has not stood in the way of protesters. “These people are in opposition to Judeo-Christian principles,” argued one angry opponent. “It’s got to stop.”

In this context, it is easy to forget that a majority of Americans–including 43 percent of Republicans–still oppose overturning the legal right to abortion. More than a million pro-choice activists traveled to Washington, D.C., on April 25 to demonstrate in the “March for Women’s Lives.”

But the march was a pep rally for the lukewarm pro-choice candidate, Democrat John Kerry–where activists were told to mobilize no further than the voting booth to defend abortion rights. Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright–who oversaw the 1990s-era sanctions against Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children–took a place of honor at the front of the march, despite her utter disregard for Iraqi women’s lives.

Now the lukewarm candidate has been defeated, and the pro-choice movement is nowhere to be seen as Christian evangelicals escalate the assault on abortion. The pro-choice movement’s fealty to the Democrats, even as the party moved further and further to the right, meant abandoning any effective fight to defend women’s right to control their own bodies.

The key lesson from the women’s movement that won legal abortion in 1973–long ago absorbed by the Christian right–is that grassroots activism is the only way to win, transcending reliance on politicians from either of the two ruling parties.

The Christian Right’s power is not in its numbers but in an overriding sense of purpose. Abortion rights can only be defended by returning to our proud principles, resurrecting the demand for “abortion without apology” and launching organizations that can mount a grass-roots counter offensive whenever Christian zealots mobilize–be it at the abortion clinic, the pharmacy or the Supreme Court.

Sharon Smith writes for the Socialist Worker. She can be reached at: sharon@internationalsocialist.org

 

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail