Sunday, May 22, 2005

Dean, Abortion, and Common Ground

This is perhaps the best example I've heard yet from a Democrat on how to frame the abortion argument. Common ground, indeed. Bravo to Chairman Dean. From Meet the Press today:
But when you talk about framing this debate the way it ought to be framed, which is "Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets," then that pro-life woman says "Well, now, you know, I've had people try to make up my mind for me and I don't think that's right."  This is an issue about who gets to make up their minds:  the politicians or the individual.  Democrats are for the individual.  We believe in individual rights.  We believe in personal freedom and personal responsibility.  And that debate is one that we didn't win, because we kept being forced into the idea of defending the idea of abortion.

We'd like to make abortion rare.  You know that abortions have gone up 25 percent since George Bush was president?

MR. RUSSERT:  But...

DR. DEAN:  We need to reduce the number of abortions in this country.  There is common ground between us and pro-life Democrats, and we ought to find that common ground.

[...]

MR. RUSSERT:  Both parties have tried to use it politically.

DR. DEAN:  I agree with that, and I think that's unfortunate.  I think it is time now for pro-life Americans and pro-choice Americans or Americans who believe in individual freedom to get together, and we have common ground.  The common ground is we'd all like to reduce the number of abortions.  But put aside the rhetoric, the difficulty and let's work to reduce the number of abortions.  That's something we can agree on.  I don't think we're going to get there with abstinence-only education.  I don't think we're going to get there if we condemn contraceptions or condom use and all that kind of thing. But let's see what common ground that we have.  There are a lot of very reasonable Americans who call themselves pro-life.  There are a lot of very reasonable Americans who believe in individual choice and personal responsibility.  I think we can work together.  There are not many of us who want to see the abortion rate continue to go up as it has under President Bush.
Present abortion this way, and moderate Pro-Life Democrats and Republicans will listen to you. Defend abortion against the GOP's narrow and ideological "Pro-Life" position and we lose.