It's Not Just About Abortion

[ Posted Monday, February 26th, 2024 – 15:45 UTC ]

Democrats are beginning to widen their political message in a way that could prove to be a big winner for them not just in November but for years to come. So far, the fallout from the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has been overwhelmingly positive for Democrats, since the majority of Americans actually favor abortion rights for all women. And now Democrats have the clear opportunity to link a number of other things to the proven political winner abortion rights has turned out to be. In fact, they should adopt a new slogan: "It's not just about abortion."

It's also about in-vitro fertilization. And contraception. And the right of a pregnant woman facing a medical emergency not to have to approach death before she can get treated by a doctor. Republicans will not be satisfied until they have molded American law to conform with their own personal religious beliefs, and this is not some academic hair-splitting -- it is going to affect millions of women's lives for the worse. It has real-world consequences, and some of them are horrific or at least intensely unpopular.

Just look at how the Republicans are now squirming on I.V.F. They are hoist by their own petard -- for years they've blithely (and sanctimoniously) proclaimed that "life begins at conception." But now we're seeing what that truly means in a world that has modern medicine in it. And no matter how much they twist, they cannot square their newfound love of I.V.F. with their unforgiving and moralistic absolutism. Over 100 House Republicans regularly sponsor a bill (125 of them in this Congress and 167 of them in the previous Congress) called the "Life at Conception Act," which unsurprisingly states that life begins at conception. From the text of this bill:

The terms "human person" and "human being" include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

These "human persons" would enjoy full constitutional protection, including equal protection under the 14th Amendment. And it is unequivocal. It even mentions the so-far theoretical "cloning," which is impossible to do without involving a whole bunch of scientific equipment. It's easy to see that I.V.F. embryos would obviously be covered by this proposed law.

Which leaves them right back where they started. Would a doctor or technician be charged with murder or manslaughter if he or she dropped a Petri dish or test tube and the embryo was destroyed? They would almost have to be, if this bill ever became law. There is no logical way for them not to be charged with such a crime. In fact, the Alabama court case involved precisely this -- I.V.F. embryos which were accidentally destroyed in similar fashion.

This cannot be squared with any new legislation that somehow tries to carve out some exception for I.V.F., because I.V.F. treatments almost always involve the intentional destruction of extra embryos. So all those Republicans who signed onto the Life at Conception Act are now tying themselves into knots trying to square these unsquarable two positions.

It's not just I.V.F. either. Republicans also don't support contraception. And they will indeed get around to changing the laws to ban any contraception which they define (with no medical basis in fact) as somehow being "abortion." Democrats, on this one, tried to be pre-emptive. And because Republicans showed their true colors, Democrats can now use it against them out on the campaign trail, as the New York Times reports today:

One month after the Supreme Court struck down the right to an abortion, Democrats who then controlled the House pushed through a bill aimed to ensure access to contraception nationwide. All but eight Republicans opposed it.

That vote two years ago, opposing legislation that would protect the right to purchase and use contraception without government restriction, may come back to haunt Republicans in November, as they seek to keep hold of their slim majority at a time when real fears about reproductive rights threaten to drive voters away from them.

. . .

A new national poll conducted by Americans for Contraception and obtained by The New York Times found that most voters across the political spectrum believe their access to birth control is actively at risk, and that 80 percent of voters said that protecting access to contraception was "deeply important" to them. Even among Republican voters, 72 percent said they had a favorable view of birth control.

When voters were told that 195 House Republicans had voted against the Right to Conception Act, 64 percent of them said they would be less likely to support Republican candidates for Congress, according to the poll. And overall, the issue of protecting access to contraception bolstered voters' preference for Democrats by nine points, giving them a 12-point edge over Republicans, up from three.

That is an astoundingly large impact on voter preference from a single issue. So any Democrat running for a House seat (or running to keep one in a swing district) who doesn't cut an ad pointing this out ("Democrats wanted to protect women's right to choose whatever birth control they want, but Republicans voted against it!") will be guilty of political malpractice for not hitting the issue hard.

The article finishes by quoting from the poll itself:

"Don't shy away from talking about all forms of contraception, including I.U.D.s and emergency contraception like Plan B," they wrote. "Contraception is popular, and voters want to be the ones making the decisions on what methods they use. They do not draw distinctions between types of birth control, and neither should we."

In fact, Democrats need to link all of these things together. "It's not just about abortion" should be their number one message, heading into the fall campaign. "Republican judges are forcing I.V.F. clinics to close, Republicans refuse to support contraception rights, and Republicans want to be the ones who make the most intimate and personal decisions for all women across America. It's not just abortion they are coming for. It's all women's rights. But we won't let them -- if you vote the Democrats into power! We will protect women's freedoms against this assault by Republican theocrats."

Or how about: "It's a clear choice -- you either think women have constitutional rights, or you don't. My Republican opponent wants to be in the examining room to make sure he can approve of all the reproductive decisions any woman makes with her doctor. I don't think anyone belongs in that room making those decisions but you and your doctor, period."

The ads really just write themselves. Speak as broadly as possible, warn of the dire consequences of what the Republican agenda truly means, and promise to fight for freedom. It's a winning strategy.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


2 Comments on “It's Not Just About Abortion”

  1. [1] 
    andygaus wrote:

    You might also ask some candidates about the attorney general in Alabama saying he wouldn't enforce the laws against IVF providers and users. Haven't some conservatives spoken rather strongly against attorney generals and prosecutors who come out and say which laws they don't intend to enforce?

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    On this date 4 years ago:
    Donald Trump names VP Mike Pence to lead COVID response team.
    Biden gets South Carolina endorsement from Rep. Clyburn

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