Saturday, November 03, 2012

Abort! Abort!

I've worked various election campaigns, and phone-banking is one of the most depressing, soul-grinding things you can do. Important, but sweet baby Jesus, you get to hear from all the losers, idiots and, worse, the one-issue voters.

Yes, they're out there. We could be emerging from the rubble of a GOP-led recession, the challenger could be saber-rattling for a third war in the Middle East and trying to set up robber barons for another Gilded Age, and you'd still have people on the phones listening to babbling lunatics explain how they could never vote for the Negro Abortionist.

Well, if there's people out there fixating on one subject, let's look at that subject for a moment, shall we?

(If you know anybody doing phone-banking in these waning days of the campaign, feel free to share this with them. You don't even need to give me credit for it. I'll be honest. It won't help: one-issue voters are not changing their minds, regardless of how many facts you run past them. But, well... at least you'll feel better.)

Barack Obama has been reliably pro-choice his entire career. This is not under dispute. But despite what many on the right like to claim, he is not a "radical abortionist."

While he did vote against bills to prevent "sex-selection" abortion and various bills which claimed to protect infants born alive due to failed abortions, but not due to some radical agenda. All were introduced by radical anti-abortionists, and all were so general that they could be twisted by political activists to begin the process of making all abortions illegal. Plus, the "failed abortion" acts were redundant even before they were written: Illinois law already protects an aborted fetus which turns out to be born alive.

But if you think that a vote for Romney is a "pro-life" vote, then, I'm sorry, but you're an idiot.

Because the truth of the matter is, nobody (probably not even Mitt Romney) knows what Romney's personal feelings are on abortion. Just looking at the evidence, his political advisers have determined that it would be best for his campaign if he was pro-life. But the people who know him give the impression that he isn't so much "pro-choice" as "uncaring." This isn't really a subject he feels like addressing.

But there's nothing here that qualifies as evidence. So, to determine the truth, we have to look at his record, and consider what Mitt Romney has actually done.

That, however, is also a mistake. Because the only conclusion to be drawn from history is that Mittens will say anything and do anything if he believes it is politically expedient.

In 1994, debating Teddy Kennedy, Romney said that he supported Roe vs Wade. Kennedy responded "I am pro-choice. My opponent is multiple choice," leading Romney to tell a heartwarming story of a close relative named Ann Keenan.
"I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that."
Look it up. While you do, keep in mind that one joke he made there, that he will "not impose (his) beliefs on other people." (It'll seem funnier later.)

In 2002, debating gubernatorial opponent Shannon O'Brien, he added "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose. I am not going to change our pro-choice laws in Massachusetts in any way. I am not going to make any changes which would make it more difficult for a woman to make that choice herself."

But in 2005, as governor, Romney vetoed a law which would ease access to emergency contraception. He explained through an Op-Ed in the Boston Globe, where he said he was "pro-life" and opposed any "judicial mandate" that dictated a nationwide abortion law, arguing instead that the issue should be left up to the states.

"I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother," Romney wrote. "I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate." Romney said he would uphold his campaign promise not to change Massachusetts' abortion laws, even though that campaign pledge was preceded by Romney's statement that he would "protect a woman's right to chose."

Then, during his first presidential bid in 2007, Romney explained that he had "changed my mind" on abortion while serving his one term as Massachusetts governor, and that "we should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states." He also said he would be "delighted" to sign a bill as president that would outlaw abortion, if there "was such a consensus in this country that we said we don't want to have abortion in this country at all, period."

(He even had a cute little explanation, about how Reagan and both Bushes had started out pro-choice, and changed to become pro-life. Like so many of Romney's stories, it was a lie. But even though he was called out on it, he used it again a few years later.) Still with me?

From 2005 to 2011, Romney consistently said that he was "pro-life" and believes abortion should be legal only in the case "of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother." That may be the longest stretch he ever went without reversing himself.

During the Republican primary last year, Romney expanded that view to explain how he believed he should cut all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, reverse Roe v. Wade "because it is bad law and bad medicine," and end funding for any international aid program that "promotes or performs abortions on women around the world."

But remember: he won't force his beliefs on other people.

He wrote it out for us in a National Review Op-Ed in June 2011. "If I have the opportunity to serve as our nation's next president, I commit to doing everything in my power to cultivate, promote, and support a culture of life in America." Apparently, one of his advisers thought he needed to take a hard right tack.

Having said repeatedly that abortion laws should be left up to the states, in October 2011 he went on Fox "News" and told Mike Huckabee that he "absolutely" supports a Constitutional amendment banning abortion.

But now, less than two months after accepting the GOP nomination, Romney is casually trying to amble back toward the center on his abortion stance, telling the Des Moines Register last month that he would not make abortion legislation part of his agenda. "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." (It comes about 14 minutes into the audio of the interview.)

Funny, because in his National Review Op-Ed, he named three specific pieces of legislation he supported: "I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions... I will reinstate the Mexico City Policy (to bar foreign aid from abortion providers)... I will advocate for and support a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect unborn children..."

But hell, his friends, family and coworkers are just as confused about Romney's position as Romney is. After he spoke to the Des Moines Register, Romney's spokesperson, Andrea Saul was quick to contradict her candidate, saying "Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life and will be a pro-life president."

On the other hand, his sister Jane, back in August (you remember August, right? Her brother was "severely conservative" back then...), said that any fear that Romney would restrict abortion was "conjured," and that "it's not his focus."

At a "Women for Mitt" event held in conjunction with the Republican National Convention in Tampa, she said "He's not going to be touching any of that...  Mitt's much more in the middle" than even the GOP platform (which supports several anti-abortion initiatives and a "Right to Life" amendment with no exceptions for rape or incest).

Romney's surrogate, former Senator Norm Coleman, seems to agree with Jane, saying in Ohio last week, "President Bush was president for eight years, Roe v. Wade wasn't reversed. He had two Supreme Court picks, Roe v. Wade wasn't reversed. It's not going to be reversed."

And then we have that last debate with Obama, where Romney went even further left, saying Obama was "totally wrong" about him wanting to shut down Planned Parenthood. Of course, he was also trying to blame gun violence on single mothers (presumably women who had escaped his binders), so perhaps he was just having an off night.

It's funny, isn't it? Romney's positions on abortion seem to change whenever there's an election nearby, and what position would be most popular with the people voting in that election. That's kind of weird. You have to wonder - is he a vacillating bag of douche, or a cynical, calculating fucknozzle?

Personally, I vote for the second one.

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