For those of us who believe in the fundamental right to privacy Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, and Bob McDonnell have each provided a strong lesson in how to properly defend issues relating to reproductive health. From now we need to stop distinguishing between different groups of people who “deserve” certain medical procedures. There is no common ground on which proponents of access to contraception and abortion services can meet and agree with the other side. “Safe, legal, and rare” as a political strategy has proven to be ineffective in stopping the zealots. Appeasement is over, and it is time to go on the offensive in assuring this essential aspect of individual liberty.
Akin’s asinine idea concerning the fecundity of rape victims is just the latest example of the decades long Republican resistance to allowing this particular group of women access to abortion services. The “no exceptions” idea has been on the national Republican platform since 1976. The desire to force women into giving birth was never analyzed by conservatives. Their position has always been about control, and their zealotry has only metastasized into even more disgusting versions of extremism, including the justification and facilitation of outright terrorism.
Democrats on the other hand decided, perhaps in the hopes of stemming the rising levels of violence from the other side, to equivocate. However by agreeing to sacrifice the singular legal and moral position from which the right to an abortion was established (the right to privacy for all), we in effect divided those who seek abortions into separate and unequal camps. On one side there were women who deserved to exercise the right to choose, and then there were the “others” whose reasons for terminating a pregnancy were not seen as valuable or morally defensible for some untold reason (i.e. they are poor or happen to engage in a lifestyle which we disapproved of).
By placating to the prejudices and adopting the insane line of thinking as the other side we allowed the worst elements of the festering extremism within the right wing to become an acceptable political position in the 21st century. By refusing to properly defend the morality inherent in preserving the right to choose, we enabled the “moderate” position to continually shift rightward. As a result, access to abortion is becoming increasingly rare in many parts of this country, to the point that the unsafe back-alley procedures of the past are now once again becoming the only options for many women suffering from an unwanted pregnancy.
This line of thinking ends now. The right to decide to undergo an abortion needs to be reaffirmed by the Democratic party with no reservations, with no exceptions, and with no further need to justify our position. Access to abortion is part of a basic human right to proper healthcare, and it is further guaranteed by the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy. There is no ambiguity in this stance, and there is no need to expound or debate the nuances within this assertion. Furthermore a pregnant rape victim might be more sympathetic for some people who would otherwise oppose abortion, but they should be treated the same under the law as a person who became pregnant as a result of consensual sex. All that matters is whether or not individual who is pregnant consents to the procedure to end their pregnancy.
This position is not only easier to defend constitutionally in the judicial system, it is also a sounder electoral strategy for progressives. While the other side features raving psychopaths like Randall Terry, buffoons like Todd Akin, and terrorists like Eric Robert Rudolph, the people defending the right to abortion include well reasoned individuals who tend to justify their opinions using actual science, basic forms of empathy, and common sense. As a society we should finally admit that raising a child is not an absolutely wonderful “blessing” for everyone who becomes pregnant. We should encourage adoption, contraception, and “planning”, but for the sake of a child’s life and proper development we should also refuse to stigmatize those who choose not undertake the commitment necessary to raise a child.
Allies of the abortion rights movement need to seize this opportunity provided to us by the lunatics trying to justify forced birth in a society that celebrates our Bill of Rights. Equivocation was a worthless endeavor, as it allowed the division and weakening of the popular consensus and legal basis necessary to support our position. This year supporters of this right need to be present themselves as morally righteous and politically certain in campaigning for an expansion of abortion services across the country. At this point we really have nothing left to lose, and the weakness within the other side is becoming more obvious everyday. There is a war on women, and it is time to declare that we will accept nothing less than a total victory over those who wish to keep 51% of this country as 2nd class citizens.