Monday, May 18, 2009

Moment of Truth for Republicans on Abortion

For the record, my own position on abortion is "safe, legal, and available to all," that last clause referring to my opposition to cutting federal funds to hospitals where abortions are performed even when medical professionals recommend the procedure. But a winning phrase from the Clinton years is "safe, legal, and rare." And Democrats have an effective strategy for reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies: real (as in explicit) sex education, and access to birth control including condoms (the only method that also prevents the spread of STDs) and the "morning after" pill. The public is smart: a concerted sex education effort and access to birth control will certainly reduce the frequency of abortion and any common-sense person can see that.

The Republicans, meanwhile, have a self-contradictory position: they want to outlaw abortion, but they also oppose sex education and making condoms and other forms of birth control available to young people. For some reason (and Lord knows I'm not the one to ask) Republicans are against sex. And since they are against sex they are against knowledge (education) about sex and even against safe sex (sex with condoms and other forms of birth control). But they are also against abortion. That's the contradiction, at least from a public health-policy perspective.

The Democrats can absolutely wipe the floor with the Republicans on this one, but we need to understand that the audience is the broad, centrist public and the message needs to go out on point and relentless: explicit sex education and access to birth control is the most efficient strategy for reducing the number of abortions. The empirical facts are a slam dunk on that one. So you say you're anti-abortion? Then we can assume you're in favor of sex education and birth control. Or we can assume you're a hypocrite...CHOOSE.

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