You'd never know from the recent Republican convention that America was about to remember the terrorist attack on New York, when 411 city firefighters, police and medical personnel died trying to save people they had never met.Yes, exactly. The Republican party's entire approach to leadership is based on division, and"us" vs. "them" philosophy that tells people If you don't look, think, pray and act like us, you're out.
Abortion is in my opinion the central message of division delivered by the Republican party. I think it's a fair statement that everyone, Republican and Democrat alike, would like to see fewer abortions. But I firmly believe that the Republican party, in spite of cries to legislate abortion out of existence, doesn't really want that.
What the Republican party wants is to keep abortion at the center of American politics, where it can avoid the key question: Why do 1.4M American women even have to seek abortions every year? There has been no substantive downward change in abortion statistics during Republican administrations since Roe v. Wade. The Republican party, however, claims success by virtue of its message and its efforts to stack the Supreme Court. And we, American women and the American people, stay mired in a polarized debate that does nothing to address the problem of why so many abortions are necessary in the first place.
I don't like the labels "pro life" and "pro choice;" they push people into camps, neither of which may correctly represent their points of view. For example, I support a woman's right to choose whether or not to take a pregnancy to term. But at the same time, I wonder why we aren't doing more to make abortion as birth control unnecessary. The overwhelming majority of abortions take place for reasons of finance and timing; many, I would like to think the majority of these, could be avoided with effective birth control. From a purely common-sensical point of view, I think everyone can agree that surgical birth control doesn't do American women the best service.
While standing firmly behind a women's right to choose, the Democratic party states consistently that it supports effective sex education and more effective methods of birth control. The Republican party, however, stymies this common sense approach with cries for abstinence-only sex ed, now being delivered from the mouth of a candidate with a pregnant teen-ager at home.
It makes no common sense, but great political sense: abortion divides us, and the Republican party likes it that way.
Figuring out why millions of American women face unplanned pregancies and make the difficult choice to terminate them is hard.Edited 9-14-08 to add: A reader asked a valid question: ... where is the answer to the question regarding the rights of unborn children? My response is here.
Lip service, with or without lipstick, is a piece of cake.