Sunday, May 17, 2009
Obama at Notre Dame
At Notre Dame, Obama Defends His Abortion Stance - NYTimes.com
President Obama directly confronted America’s deep divide over abortion on Sunday as he appealed to partisans on both sides to find ways to respect one another’s basic decency and even work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. As anti-abortion leaders protested his appearance at the University of Notre Dame, the nation’s storied Catholic university, Mr. Obama defended his support for abortion rights but called for more “open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words” in the debate that has polarized the country for decades.
Well, Obama got it right on this one, though the persisting Religious Right won't be convinced and Progressives will make a show of yapping and whining. Embedded in the political rhetoric was the hard kernel: abortion is a moral issue about which rational, educated, informed people of good will disagree. Pro-choice advocates aren't baby-killers; pro-life partisans aren't out to enslave women.
Will Obama succeed in de-politicizing abortion? I doubt it. It would mean winding back 30 years of history, during which the personal became political and economic issues were eclipsed by Culture Wars. During that time conservative Evangelical Protestants who ignored abortion as a "Catholic thing" during the run-up to Roe v. Wade got on board with the pro-life agenda in order to form a political alliance with Catholics and Progressives made abortion a litmus test because fighting for "women's right to choose" was easier than fighting for affirmative action to end sex segregation in the labor force--and, of course, more sexy.
But, who knows? Then we were riding high and could afford to worry about "lifestyle issues." Now the economy dominates everything and the lower classes, dangling over the abyss of unemployment and forclosure, don't have the leisure to worry about the rights of stem cells.
Obama did good. The Religious Right rump will keep waving signs showing dismembered fetuses and conventional feminists will froth at the mouth about his support for abortion reduction but most Americans will support him.