home Feminism, North America, Politics, Women Why are there pro-life Democrats? HR3 and the fight for a Gosnell world

Why are there pro-life Democrats? HR3 and the fight for a Gosnell world

H.R. 3 has been protested almost since the day it was introduced. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which does pretty much what it says on the tin — imposes a series of draconian restrictions on abortion funding — made waves at first because of its “forcible rape” clause, which aimed to restrict the definition of “rape” as it applied to rape and incest exemptions, and which garnered a significant amount of coverage and protest this February. (The clause was removed — but the bill still stands to deprive statutory rape victims of the right to choose.) Of course, even with that infamous clause removed, H.R. 3 aims to deprive people of Medicaid funding for abortions, meaning that it aims to deprive poor women of abortions, meaning that it targets specifically the most vulnerable people within the population. And good news for those of us in the middle: If you are lucky enough to have insurance, H.R. 3 will also prohibit your insurance company from covering your abortion. So, hurrah! All will be delightfully well-oppressed.

The most upsetting thing about H.R. 3, however, is the fact that it passed the House on May 4. And how it passed: On a 251-to-175 vote. Every single Republican present voted for it. And so did 16 Democrats.

That first bit isn’t a surprise. The Republican party is more or less open about the fact that they plan to destroy the right to abortion. They have not wavered in this purpose, despite the fact that we all know that abortions save lives, that unplanned pregnancies can ruin lives, and that being unable to access safe abortion quite literally kills people, either by making them carry risky pregnancies to term or by exposing them to unsafe practitioners like Kermit Gosnell, currently up on eight counts of murder, who preyed specifically on low-income women unable to access abortion by other means — the very people targeted by H.R. 3. Seven of those murder counts are for live babies Gosnell allegedly delivered, then killed. One is for a pregnant woman he allegedly killed with an overdose of Demerol. As for the rest:

“At least one other mother died following an abortion in which Gosnell punctured her uterus and then sent her home. He left an arm and a leg of a partially aborted fetus in the womb of another woman, and then told her he did not need to see her when she became sick days later, having developed a temperature of 106 degrees. He perforated bowels, cervixes, and uteruses. He left women sterile,” according to one account.

This is the future that anti-abortion politicians are pushing for. There is no way around it. Making abortion illegal, or restricting access to it, does not stop the need for it, and it does not stop abortion from happening. Women and trans men will have safe, clean, quick abortions in doctors’ offices, or they will die trying to get them. Few things are more reliable than the desperation of people who are trying not to have children that they can’t care for or can’t afford. Every time we restrict abortion, every time we place a ban on one type or another — Gosnell was able to exist because late-term abortions, specifically, were inaccessible — we move a step closer to this ultimate goal. The overturn of Roe v. Wade. The Gosnell world.

Which is why those pro-life Democrats stick out. In a House that was already going to pass the measure, against a united and determined Republican anti-choice strategy, they added sixteen unnecessary voices of support. The question of “why” — why such a thing as a “pro-life Democrat” even exists — gets more terrifying the more closely you consider it.

We should be clear, here: H.R. 3 has very little chance of passing the Senate. There have been statements that Obama will be urged to veto it, if necessary. And, if the conversations I’ve been having are any evidence, there are people willing to defend those sixteen Democrats who voted to pass it through the house. They know that the bill will probably not become law; their votes are meaningless. They need to be re-elected; it’s their careers, their futures on the line. We need Democratic politicians, even if they do screw up on issues like this from time to time: We need a Democratic majority. We need to look past this issue, toward the greater good. Right? I mean, there are worse things that could happen. The Republicans could be in control. Then, we’d really be in trouble.

It’s a convincing argument. Unless you remember the woman with a belly full of spilled shit, the hemorrhaging woman with a torn uterus, the sixteen-year-old forcibly stripped, bound to a table, and punched by her “doctor,” as the painkillers set in, praying she can stay awake, knowing that she won’t. Unless you think there are principles in this world that one does not, under any circumstances, betray. Unless you think that protecting the lives of those women is one such principle. If none of that particularly matters to you, then yes: The “greater good” could reasonably be comprised of a Democratic party that does not universally defend the legal right to abortion.

It is not just about re-election, about pleasing an anti-choice constituency. Many “pro-life” Democrats are just as anti-abortion as any Republican. Former Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak, of Stupak-Pitts, admitted that he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, given the chance.

“Unless we elect pro-life Democrats we’re not going to pass any pro-life legislation. We’re a two-party system and we need support from both parties,” according to Carol Crossed, former President of Democrats for Life.

The agenda is fairly clear: enabling anti-abortion politicians to infiltrate and undermine the historically pro-choice Democratic party. “Passing pro-life legislation.” That is the end game. And this is not something we can, under any circumstances, support.

But then, the other part of Crossed’s quote, the other people she counted as allies in the “pro-life” fight: “Democrats who are very concerned their party is not winning. These are the party analysts, strategists who see this as a sort of strategy.”

So, yes: Some politicians are just playing the game. They want to win. And if “winning” means backing anti-choice policies: Well, winning is winning. And H.R. 3 probably won’t become law, so they’re not even all that important, those sixteen Democratic votes. Right?

Well. That depends. Which is more abhorrent to you: the person who genuinely wants to do harm, who does not understand his actions to be wrong? Or the person who knows he is doing wrong, and does it anyway, for the sake of personal gain?

Politics is politics, and it is a dirty game. That much is true. But for too long, Democrats have been willing to accept the idea that protecting the lives, bodies, and futures of their constituents is an “idealistic” move. As opposed to, you know, their job. Faced with a full-on assault on the bodily integrity of roughly half the country, they’ve been able to pretend that abortion is something which is not important enough to deserve a united front of defense. Sure: It might be harder to get a Democratic majority if we demanded that the people we elected actually, you know, voted like Democrats. But this issue is not one on which we can negotiate. And this fight is not one that we can afford to lose.

Picture by internets_dairy, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

6 thoughts on “Why are there pro-life Democrats? HR3 and the fight for a Gosnell world

  1. The house bill is not about abortion per se, it is about federal funding of abortion–the taking of human life which is abhorent to most tax-payers including most Democrats! The Democratic Party has traditionally stood for protecting the sanctity of human life. Only in the last 50 years or so since the Korean War have Pro-Abortion (Pro-Infanticide) proponents won control of certain levels of the Democratic Party in certain states and nationally. They certainly do not speak for a large number of Democrats. Like it or not, I am a Pro-Life Democrat who strongly supports the sanctity of human life. Let us be very clear, the “choice” the abortion advocates are talking about is the choice to kill defenseless infants. There is no way these Pro-Aborts will ever run me out of the Democratic Party and I will do every thing I can to defeat people like the person who wrote this article.

  2. If the parties were consistent in the policies, it would be us Democrats who were pro-life. Democrats are pro-life from birth on, while Republicans, with their anti-poor, war-mongering, pro-big corporation policies are the party of unfettered choice regardless of the sanctity of life. I will keep fighting for my party to be consistently pro-life.

  3. @h. keith …and what do you plan to do when the children get here? I hear all about how abortion is killing innocent children, but no one ever speaks about the children are born who are neglected, who suffer, and die because their parents have almost no access to pediatric care, have very little access to food, daycare, housing, etc. I suppose that is the parents’ fault because “they should know to keep their legs closed, etc., etc.” But, the point is they didn’t, and now there is a child in the world that doesn’t have access to proper health and nutrition, without this access the child will suffer, and quite possibly die.

    Again, I understand yor moral imperative to save defenseless children. But, the facts are that with access abortions, contraceptives, healthcare, and proper education the U.S. isn’t going to have as many people walking around unable to meet basic needs. The infant mortality rate is likely go down. Oh, and women are less likely to die from birth complications, or you know, have to carry their rapist’s baby. Without all of this, you have what this country has now: A bunch of babies that are not taken care of because we as a society care more about them in utero than when they get outside of their mothers.

  4. I could care LESS if Republicans call me a baby killer for having an abortion! I am totally aware of all their cries for the lives of these babies, which means absolutely nothing to me because I am also well aware that not one of these BLUBBERING FASCISTS would raise a finger to help save the life of even one of these, so-called precious babies, when they are actually in need of life-giving sustenance. Because everyone of these BLUBBERING IDIOTS will also do whatever they are capable of doing to deny even one cent of help in raising these children. At every minute in the life of even one of child, they will denounce that child’s right to food, education, healthcare, decent housing, or a decent wage and job for the parent of said child! WHAT A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITS!

  5. Awesome article, very succinct and to the point. Yes lots of men are scared of women who might have abortions but that is the reality for some women and this article is right on.

  6. This article’s argument is so radical. As a woman, I can relate to some of the points made here. However, not in one section is it mentioned that many women resort to abortion as a form of birth control, whether poor or not. My whole life I’ve known women (sadly, many family and friends) who aborted their pregnancies out of convenience. Most certainly could afford having a child. Those that could not, had the support from family and friends to do so, and/or the knowledge to find social services that would assist them while they cared for a child. Additionally, ALL were in perfect health to carry and care for a child, as were the fetuses. They simply made a “mistake” that would change their lifestyle or future plans. It’s heart breaking. Roe vs. Wade saved so many from tragedy. Yet it opened the doors for many others to take advantage and use it as a convenient solution to their “mistakes”. The real dilemma here is finding a way to stop this from occuring so that those women in dire MEDICAL need of pregnancy termination are not in danger of losing this option.

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