It’s July 4th, 2016 Independence Day and we are still easily debating whether or not women are people entitled to liberty.
Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) has been mentioned repeatedly as being on Secretary Hillary Clinton’s VP short list. But there are issues with him for liberals and women’s rights advocates. One of these issues is his stance on abortion rights.
Via Politico on Kaine’s dubious pro-choice record:
But he hasn’t always advanced policies directly in line with abortion rights advocacy groups. He pledged in his 2005 gubernatorial campaign to reduce the number of terminated pregnancies in the state by promoting adoption and abstinence-focused education. That cycle, the state NARAL chapter ripped Kaine’s GOP opponent, Jerry Kilgore, as “an extremely anti-choice candidate” but still withheld its endorsement of Kaine because he “embraces many of the restrictions on a woman’s right to choose.”
To be fair, that was 2005 and since then Kaine has made a turnaround in terms of supporting a woman’s right to choose, as the writers point out in the Politico article. But the larger point is worth examining — is being a pro-life Catholic a non-starter for pro-choice Democrats?
There is actually a place where pro-life meets pro-choice, and that is in sharing the goal to reduce the abortion rate. The problem is that most pro-life politicians actively push policies that will raise the abortion rate, like abstinence only and defunding Planned Parenthood. This is a glaring hypocrisy.
Kaine is opposed to abortion, but he is also opposed to the death penalty. This shows a consistency rarely seen in the pro-life movement.
Politico continued with this quote from Kaine, “I’m kind of a traditional Catholic. Personally, I’m opposed to abortion, and personally, I’m opposed to the death penalty.”
Sigh. Guess what. Most people are “opposed” to abortion until they or someone they love needs one. No one is PRO abortion.
Yet women must have the legal right to have an abortion or they are turned into vassals with no rights over their own bodies. As a legal issue, this has been debated and debated and fought and overturned — but there is no way to legally impart a fetus with more rights than a woman. There is no legitimate way to legally take away from women the right to medical choice.
There is a certain arrogance in saying one is “opposed” to abortion. That’s like saying I’m opposed to tragedy. Yes, well, join the club. But not everyone is so privileged as to avoid tragedy. (Note: Not intended to equivocate an abortion to a tragedy.)
There are numerous reasons why a women can find herself in a bad situation and desire a termination, the most obvious is the pregnancy is life-threatening to the mother. No one wants to be in that position, but it happens every day.
No one is asking Kaine to have an abortion and he will never have to make this choice, as a man. But I’d like to ask, if a person is pro-life, wouldn’t that mean they are pro-mother’s life too? If they are against letting the mother die, then they must be pro-choice legally. Morally they can do whatever they wish.
Instead of saying he is “opposed” to abortion, Kaine might try saying he agrees with Democrats on policies that seek to reduce abortion rates. This includes supporting Planned Parenthood.
We can all agree that we want to help reduce the amount of women who are in this position. We should also all be able to agree that women are people in their own right and because of that, are granted full liberty, including medical rights over their own bodies.
After years of Republicans working overtime to limit and reduce women’s Constitutionally-protected right to privacy, Kaine’s position is not encouraging as a possible VP pick. But it does open the door to a needed reframing of the abortion debate.
Pro-life should include women. Women are people. Any politician who claims they are against abortion should be asked if they are pro women’s lives. They should be asked, “When do women stop being people whose lives are included in that belief?”
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.