As the White House readies its plan for finding "common ground" on reproductive health issues and reducing the need for abortion, a major debate has emerged over how to package the plan's two major components: preventing unwanted pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion.
Many abortion rights advocates and some Democrats who want to dial down the culture wars want the White House to package the two parts of the plan together, as a single piece of legislation. The plan would seek to reduce unwanted pregnancies by funding comprehensive sex education and contraception and to reduce the need for abortion by bolstering federal support for pregnant women. Supporters of the approach say it would force senators and members of Congress on both sides of the abortion battle to compromise their traditional positions, creating true common ground that mirrors what President Obama has called for.
But more conservative religious groups working with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships say they would be forced to oppose such a plan—even though they support the abortion reduction part—because they oppose federal dollars for contraception and comprehensive sex education. This camp, which includes such formidable organizations as the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention, is pressuring the White House to decouple the two parts of the plan into separate bills. One bill would focus entirely on preventing unwanted pregnancy, while the other would focus on supporting pregnant women.
The White House declined a request for comment. Advocates for both plans say the administration has offered no hint about how it will come down on the matter. But with the White House expected to announce its plan on abortion and related issues this summer, advocates on both sides are strenuously lobbying for the plan, arguing that it offers the only true hope for common ground on very thorny issues. (Read full article here.)
The Obama team is silent about what it plans to do.
For the White House, the decision about which tack to take is largely a question of whom it feels more comfortable alienating: religious groups like the Catholic bishops, which it has been trying hard to win over, or abortion rights groups, a key part of the Democratic base that it doesn't want to lose.
As I said in my extended look at Reproductive Health Reality Check's "common ground forum", the new pro-abortion tactic is "[not to] reduce abortion, [but] to reduce the "need" for abortion, often through recourse to contraception." And they will never rule out abortion. In fact, the RHRC's twitter feed yesterday promoted "ensuring universal access to family planning" (a euphemism for contraception and abortion) as common ground!
So what does this "new way" boil down to for us? Catholics giving in on contraception. The radical abortion agenda will not back down one step, so their "common ground" is a mask for us to compromise our principles.
Just look at the thoughts expressed in the ultra-liberal Daily Kos, which specifically targets Catholics:
On the subject of Reproductive Freedom, there can be no common ground between the militant anti-abortion religious right, including the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and those of us who believe that people have the right to use any method of birth control they choice, up to and including safe, legal abortion.
While most of Catholics in this country and much of the rest of the world believe as I do, that girls, women and their sexual partners should have this right, the Roman Catholic hierarchy would rather women die of AIDS, and they and their children die of hunger, rather than a sexual partner use condoms or themselves use artificial methods of birth control or be able to attain a safe, legal abortion.
This sort of thinking is the same type that is held by the owners of Planned Parenthood, and the powerful pro-abortion interests in this country.
Secondly, it's a liberal orthodoxy that universal access to contraception (and honestly, pushing contraceptives on sexually active people, starting young) will reduce the need for abortions.
However, I've heard it argued that the actual data reveals that countries with expanded access to contraception actually have more need for abortions. I would tend to agree with this analysis, because who of us thinks that American youth *don't* have enough access to contraception?! Frankly, the people who don't use contraception for religious reasons are the same people who are far, far less likely to seek an abortion.
But it would help if I had the research at my finger tips. So if you know where it is online, please send me the link and I'll post it on AmP.
There is currently a lobbying battle waging between pro-abortion groups and the USCCB over which plan the Obama team chooses, as Gilgoff reports. We need to be active in supporting the USCCB and combating the tactics of the pro-abortion groups, who only offer a common ground that hurts Americans, born and unborn.