Abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.”
That’s the slogan pro-choice politicians hide behind when the sticky question of abortion comes up in public policy debate.
It’s a lie of convenience, of course. If these politicians really believed abortion should be rare, we’d hear them talk about the moral component to ending a pregnancy, and we’d have seen federal programs designed to communicate exactly why abortion should be rare.
That’s not to say that I expected to see anti-abortion ad campaigns at the same level of ferociousness as those government anti-smoking campaigns we’ve seen in past decades. Stigmatizing abortion doesn’t strike me as particularly helpful.
But pro-abortion politicians — especially those who have religious qualms about it, such as Roman Catholics, Mormons and fundamental Christians — can’t even bring themselves to get behind any sustained anti-abortion public service campaign on par with, say, the “war” on trans-fats, big sugary sodas or obese kids.
That’s how muddied this whole “safe, legal and rare” mantra has become for the hypocrites in the Democratic Party.
Stand by, because that tension is about to get more intense. Those in the pro-abortion movement who believe there are zero moral components to abortion are about to pierce the veil of the “safe, legal and rare” canard.
They want folks such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to stop playing it safe and start saying what the Democratic Party really means — abortion should be made widely available without the stigma that comes with the taking of a potential human life. It should be a procedure offered with the ease and lack-of-consequence of, say, getting your teeth whitened in the mall.
You think I joke? Consider Dr. Tracy Weitz, director of the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health program at the University of California, San Francisco. She contends that when politicians such as Clinton and Reid use the term “rare,” it suggests that “abortion is happening more than it should, and that there are some conditions for which abortions should and should not occur. It separates ‘good’ abortions from ‘bad’ abortions.”
Or take Jessica Valenti, a writer at The Guardian newspaper, who wants to tell Hillary Clinton to get with the new program on the abortion debate.
“I support abortion rights,” she says. “Being pro-choice means a lot of different things to me — among them, that abortion should be safe, legal, accessible, subsidized and provided with empathy and nonjudgment.
“Still, avowed pro-choice politicians — like Clinton and Obama — persist in using the decades-old framing … I wanted to ask why.
“It’s actually a question I’d like to see answered though — not just by Clinton, but by all politicians — so I’ll ask it again here:
“You’ve been a longtime supporter of pro-choice policies, but the framework you often use is that abortions should be ‘safe, legal and rare.’ But by saying abortion should be rare, the implication is that there’s something morally wrong with the procedure or that the goal should be eradicating the need for abortion. Can you defend your use of the word ‘rare’ beyond the political rhetoric, and talk about how we can end the stigma against a medical procedure that one-third of all American women will have?”
I’d like to think that the current crop of “safe, legal and rare” pro-abortion politicians would bridle at this more aggressive effort to make abortion morally on par with removing a hemorrhoid.
But these spectacular hypocrites can’t even come to the defense of adoption as an alternative or reach consensus on popular abortion restrictions, such as parental notification. When was the last time a Democrat stood on the Senate floor and talked not about the Koch brothers, but about the value of motherhood in the context of abortion?
It doesn’t happen, because leaders in the Democratic Party know that the use of “rare” was always just a fig leaf covering their re-election butts from the long-term agenda of the Democratic base. Now those chickens have come home to roost.
If mainstream abortion activists get their way, the question for Democrats will no longer be whether abortions should be rare, but how soon can we get abortion kiosks in the mall. I wish it were a joke.
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/sherman-frederick.