The remarks of Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin, and Akin’s stubborn refusal to defenestrate himself to placate the party’s leaders who want him gone for saying things that they all agree should never be said out loud, has occasioned much guffawing and posturing — and, very probably, fundraising — on the part of Democratic politicians and their enablers all over the country. The Republicans seem perfectly content with alienating practically every female voter not named Palin unto the third generation — which, in the case of the pullulating Palins, ought to be arriving any day now.
Once everyone’s done having a good chortle over the whole matter, here’s what I’d like to see from the Democratic Party: a full-throated, no-hemming-or-hawing or throat-clearing, defense of a woman’s right to choose. Period. The Supreme Court of the United States decided that a woman’s right to privacy extends to her right to have this particular medical procedure up to a certain point in her pregnancy and, therefore, believe it or not, despite the opinion of you and Jesus, a woman still has that right, and the reasons for her decision do… not… matter and, frankly, are none of your business, or mine, or your pastor’s, or Todd Akin’s. It is solely between the woman, her doctor, her conscience, and her god, if she happens to have one.
No more enabling. No more wishful thinking that the whole icky business would go away so we can all talk about The Economy, or, worse, The Deficit. No more clinging to “rape, incest, and the health of the mother.” No more Clintonian caveats about safe, legal, and rare. (“Safe and legal.” Full stop.) No more pathetic attempts to reach “common ground,” when, at least in our politics, there plainly is no common ground to be reached. (If you want to argue that there is, take it up with Planned Parenthood.) No more, “Well, I respect the beliefs of the other side” goo-goo rhetoric. Just a simple demand that the conservative opposition respect the settled law.
I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of the fact that this perfectly legal medical procedure is unavailable to women wishing to exercise their legitimate constitutional rights to it in most of the nation. I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of repealing the Hyde Amendment, which never made any sense in the first place, and which makes sense only if I can withhold that part of my taxes that go to pay for Antonin (Short Time) Scalia’s salary. I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of the fact that the real target here is not, and never has been, Roe v. Wade. It has been, and always will be, Griswold v. Connecticut. It is axiomatic among movement conservatives that the right to privacy derived from the Bill of Rights in that decision is a constitutional fiction and an example of unfortunate liberal judicial overreach. The sudden, bizarre attack on contraception this year didn’t come from nowhere; that was the issue over which Griswold was decided. I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of the fact that an assault on a woman’s right to privacy over her reproductive decisions is the first step in the assault on your right to be private in any and all decisions you make. (Again, if you disagree, I suggest you take it up with Planned Parenthood.) I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of the fact that, the recent events at the Family Research Council aside, only one side of this dispute has a legitimate body count. Only one side is clearly possessed of a violent, terrorist fringe. That ought to matter. Eric Rudolph ought to be as much a part of this ongoing debate as Sandra Fluke has been (and continues to be).
In short, after hearing about the “pro-life movement” for going on 40 years now, I’d like to see evidence of a pro-choice “movement.” No equivocation. No sliding the issue off onto the national Democratic Party’s apparently limitless “back burner.” The Republicans are not the only ones who have opinions on this issue that they’d rather nobody say out loud. The Democrats have opinions like that, too. The crucial difference is that the Republicans, while not saying those things out loud, move implacably on those opinions anyway, turning them into laws that restrict the freedom of women all over this country.