Steve Waldman thinks Obama messed up by not making sure that his pro-life religious supporters got more out of the platform committee abortion plank. I’m not so sure. Like it or not, Obama is firmly pro-choice. His opponents are pulling out all the stops to demonstrate that he is not just your run-of-the-mill pro-choice politician, but a true believer–and, indeed, Obama’s got some tough explaining to do to prove otherwise. So rather than engage in a lot of hypocritical talk about the tragedy of abortion, he might be better advised to say:
Look, I believe in choice, real choice, for all women. So abortions should be freely available for those who feel compelled to have them, but also and no less important, there must be material support for those who want to carry their pregnancies to term. And I believe that if all of us, pro-choice and pro-life, can join together to ensure that support, we will have done more to reduce the number of abortions in this country than the Republicans have done with their lip service to constitutional amendments and their legislation to require parental consent and to ban abortion procedures. For too long, the conflict over abortion has prevented us from moving forward in a bipartisan way on a host of critical issues. What I’m proposing is a new way forward, which maintains the right to abortion while reducing its incidence. And I firmly believe that this is what most Americans want to be the case.
It is worth bearing in mind, as pastordan over at Streetprophets rants here and here, that there are lots of religious folks who are, in fact, pro-choice. In a word, there’s a pro-life moral high ground and a pro-choice moral high ground. There’s not a pandering-to-the-other-side moral high ground. In a non-hypocritical way, the Democrats’ new platform language gives pro-life folks an opportunity to work for abortion reduction in the ineluctably pro-choice context that is the Democratic Party. For those for whom that’s not good enough, so be it.