Mommy Won't Help Dems on Abortion | NBC New York

Mommy Won't Help Dems on Abortion

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Were you aware that the Democratic Party platform will soon "strongly" support "motherhood"? Many of us with mothers are grateful. Yesterday, a bevy of articles appeared alerting us to the fact that Democrats would offer a pointless embrace of maternity to soften the edges of the party's position on abortion. This, presumably, would grant many social conservatives the space they need to immerse in the warm and tender rays of Hope. Has anything changed policywise on the issue? Has Barack Obama's stance softened? Not yet.

    And why should it. The right of a woman to choose an abortion is one of the tenets of the Democratic Party. A political body must take an inflexible position on occasion -- or is "unity" just another word for "get me elected"?

    Giving mom her due was a compromise forged by insiders in intense behind-the-scenes negotiations. The platform will now "strongly and unequivocally" support Roe vs. Wade, but also "strongly" support a woman's decision to carry a pregnancy to term.

    Will Republicans follow suit by padding their anti-abortion platform statement with an iron-clad promise to support the right of citizens to grow mustaches? Such a declaration, after all, would be equally relevant.

    Michael Yaki, the platform director, claims insiders spent days -- days! -- bringing parties together to carve out this intricate declaration. "If we had tried to do this on the fly, my concern was that it could turn into some very messy public event," he explained.

    Messy, indeed. Democrats face a political barrier on abortion, as it remains one of a handful of issues that can't be compromised even by those fed up by Republicans.

    Yet, the Democrats are so enthusiastic to make abortion a non-issue that they've recruited the vigorously unexciting Sen. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, a Catholic who opposes abortion rights, to be a featured speaker at the party's national convention. (Casey's father, ironically, was rejected for the same task -- and for the same reason -- by Democrats in 1992.)

    Are voters, one wonders, truly so breathtakingly dim-witted that they will pivot on such an important issue because of a transparently dim platform addendum supporting human procreation? Or will a single speaker at the convention do the trick?

    Our wide spectrum of positions on abortion can be influenced by deep moral, religious, ideological and personal convictions. Politically, though, the divide is clear -- and should be clear. One of the reasons we have political parties is so that they can take, you know, positions on stuff.

    And a number of elected Democrats in moderate states purport to be opposed to abortion rights. But rarely, if ever, is their theoretical bravery put to the test by any actual vote. Casey included.

    Obama, on the other hand, has taken votes. Certainly he hasn't wavered on his commitment. In 2007, Obama promised the first thing he will do as president is to lift a ban on state restrictions on abortions, including late-term procedures. (Why not allow states to decide the whole issue?)

    In Illinois, Obama voted against the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, which would have recognized any infant born alive after surviving abortion as a human deserving legal protection. The bill was almost identical to one that was unanimously passed by the Senate in 2001.

    So Obama's record is not up for debate. You either love it or you hate it, or, like me, you're indifferent, as you suspect the president has little influence over the issue of abortion to begin with.

    But abortion isn't energy policy, a commercial won't change your mind, and neither will Bob Casey or an ode to Mommy Power.

    Especially not Bob Casey.