Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Likely Abortion Politics

I posted about abortion the other day in response to a friend's challenge. This led to an interesting further exchange, which I reproduce here.

I was glad to see you decided to respond to the Robbie George piece on Obama and abortion with a blog entry a few days ago. But I must tell you I was generally disappointed in the result, primarily because I thought you dodged the issue. It is true, of course, that George was extrapolating rather liberally from the FOCA language that you so helpfully provided. But that is the very point. As you well know, the left has famously supported an array of innocuous sounding policy statements, like the FOCA one, but then their lawyers argue from those statements for a regulatory regime and legal framework that goes far beyond what most people associate with the original position. Frankly, the FOCA position sounds roughly similar to our current abortion regime, which is what makes it seem harmless. But I can easily see NARAL and their ilk driving a Mack truck through the language to do exactly the sort of things George mentions in his piece. That was the issue you sidestepped by veering off into the argument about George’s piece being alarmist and rhetorically overblown. The piece may well have taken liberties, to be sure. But you provided no evidence (perhaps because no evidence exists) about what limitations on abortion Obama might actually find acceptable.

I don't know what limits Obama would put on abortion. Neither does Robbie George. Hillary Clinton has supported the 95-10 proposal. I expect that Obama would too if given a law to sign. It is clearly not one of his big issues either way.

Sure, there are people on the left who want to drive a truck though innocuous statutory language. Same thing on the right.

The truth is that there are not enough members of Congress who care enough about this issue, on either side, to force though a major abortion bill -- FOCA, anti-FOCA, or a serious compromise. FOCA will not be the first bill he signs, because there will not be a serious abortion bill in the next Congress, any more than there was in the last one (or dozen). And President Obama will not spend political capital to get one, any more than Pres. Bush did.

Well, now this is an EXCELLENT answer because you both acknowledge what seems to be true—that we will have to wait and see what Obama really thinks about abortion—and also provide a very politically grounded comment, that we’re just not in line for significant abortion legislation anytime soon.
Of course you’re correct that the right does the same kind of thing as the left on policy language—presumably that’s part of the ongoing struggle over the Defense of Marriage Act, for example. Seems to me this whole arena, of both sides trying to impose their views and policy approaches on the country via seemingly “safe” national legislation, would make a great conference topic for centrists who are trying to keep their sanity. I know an issue I’d love to see discussed in this vein involves “equal rights.” I’m certainly in favor of the notion of “equal pay for equal work,” for example. But I don’t have any clear sense of how this could be enforced without introducing so many skewed incentives that we’d end up worse off than we already are. Again, I’d like some centrist discussion of this rather than the usual bomb throwing from the political extremes.
To which I say, Amen.

1 comment:

c3 said...

In 2003 a good question to ask a Christian Republican would have been "How much war would it take to make you reconsider your fealty to the Republican Party?"

Will the question for 2010 be for the Christian Democrat "How much liberalization of abortion policy would make you reconsider your loyalty to the Democratic party?"

IMHO both Jim Dobson and Jim Wallis get it wrong.