Two Front War

by digby

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I don't have a lot of trust in some of the newest residents of the Big Democratic Tent. I just get the feeling that they don't have a lot of respect for my values --- or me. Pastor Dan explains why:

The man from Sojourners oozes patriarchy in response to his readers' questions about discouraging abortions:

Support for women caught up in difficult situations and tragic choices is a better path than coercion for really reducing the abortion rate. Yes, I agree there is never a "need" for abortion except in the case where the health of the mother is threatened. But until we can reach out to women who "feel" the need for abortion and support them in alternative choices, we will never change the shameful abortion rate that both sides seem content to live with while they just attack each other. It is time to move from symbols to solutions.


This is literally the most patronizing attempt to legislate morality that I have seen in a long long time, outside of the Bush administration. It is smug, elitist and condescending. There is no vision of social benefit, no argument about the values of one policy option over another. When it boils down to it, the purpose of this dubious proposal is to make the Democratic party safe for people like Wallis and other pro-lifers who want to act upon women in the guise of "reaching out to them."

I don't want to hear any more crap about how "we're all on the same team." Until Jim Wallis can start his discussion of abortion with the recognition that women are moral agents in their own right and don't need him to guide their decision-making, we're not on the same team at all.

(read the whole post for the full argument...)

So that's our new best friend's argument from inside the tent. From outside we have this:

The Bush Administration has drafted a set of regulations that could seriously undermine the ability of American women to get birth control. The draft regulations put politics above women’s health care needs.

As currently written, the Bush regulations extend federal law, allowing more health care institutions like insurance companies, pharmacies, and hospitals to refuse to provide contraceptive services and information.

In recent years, states across the country have passed laws that protect women’s access to birth control. The Bush regulations specifically seek to undermine these important protections, including laws that:

Require employers to provide contraceptive coverage on an equal basis with all other prescriptions in their insurance plans,
Require pharmacies to fill prescriptions for birth control,
Require emergency rooms to offer rape survivors emergency contraception (under the draft rule, hospitals could be exempted from even having to tell rape survivors that such contraception exists),
Permit state and local governments to refuse to allow hospitals to merge when the result would be the elimination of reproductive health services.

In addition, the draft rule could require government-funded health centers to hire employees who will refuse to do their job. For example, if implemented, the regulations could force a family-planning center to hire a receptionist who refuses to make appointments for women seeking birth control. The rule could also make it easier for organizations that refuse to provide women with contraceptive services and information to get government money designed to support reproductive health care centers.

Who are these pharmacists who don't believe in birth control and why is this suddenly the urgent business of the federal government? And what does Jim Wallis have to say about them?

Even so-called Republican moderates like Darcy Burner's opponent Dave Reichert in Washington think this is good public policy, so this is clearly not a fringe position. Where's this nonsense coming from? (Oh right...)

It seems to me that if they are sincere, Wallis and the other religious leaders who say they want to reduce abortions would be spending their time talking to people like Reichert about the need for people to have unfettered access to Birth control rather than lecturing liberals who already support those efforts and have for years. Of course, one would have to assume that Wallis really wants to help prevent unwanted pregnancy rather than just wants to make abortions --- and sex --- shameful and those who have abortions and sex subject to the "punishment" of childbirth.

It just seems to me that he and his pals would do more good persuading the right to stop demonizing sex and birth control than "persuading" women to give birth against their will. (And by the way, giving up a child for adoption is a hell of a lot more complicated than exercising the feel-good "Juno Option." Ask women who went through nine months of pregnancy and gave up their kids just how "simple" it was.)

These two assaults on women's reproductive rights --- the "gentle" persuasion of our new friends who say "we just want to make women realize they don't need to have abortions" combined with the harsh assault by the religious right to limit women's access to birth control makes it obvious that this battle is now being fought on twin fronts.

And one day soon, I'm sure we'll see a brilliant compromise brokered between the Democrats and Republicans --- the Republicans will reluctantly allow the government to "force" people to dispense birth control against their consciences and the Democrats will reluctantly agree that it's necessary to force women to have children against their will. A lovely bipartisan outcome.

And then we'll fight the damned thing all over again in the states, thus making sure that all the important players still have careers.