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Monday, December 13, 2004

'Choice' Rhetoric, by Sarah Blustain, deputy editor of the American Prospect.

Blustain argues that Democrats need to change the tone of their abortion advocacy in order to acknowledge the sorrow and ambivalence that women feel about their abortions.

She says that she felt pressure to attend the abortion rights rally held in Washington, D.C. in April 2004.

But the rally ultimately left me cold. I realized I was more aware of the ambivalence felt by women who had had legal abortions than by those who, decades before, had died in back-alley abortions. Bill Clinton was much closer to this understanding when he pushed for abortions to be “safe, legal, and rare.” That line, generated by the White House, caught the spirit of our country. People responded to it positively, says Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, because “we all believe that prevention is better than a cure.” When Clinton left, for the most part, the phrase did too, but “safe, legal, and rare” is what we all want. No one, not even Smeal or Gloria Steinem, is ever “pro-abortion.” Legal, safe abortion is the best outcome for what is always a bad situation.

Finally, after a couple of hours of standing, the entire mass of us began to shuffle circuitously toward the Capitol steps. I just didn’t have the heart anymore. I made for the nearest Metro stop. On my way, I passed piles of those pro-choice signs, and a small group of protesters standing silently on a street corner. They were holding signs that read “I regret my abortion.”

That, I thought, would be a good starting point for Democratic politicians.
My co-blogger Annie was one of those women standing there, holding an "I regret my abortion" sign. Annie wrote about her experience here.

Blustain's article is significant. She certainly knows that some abortion rights activists think that the right strategy for today's abortion advocate is to celebrate abortion in various ways, including wearing "I Had An Abortion" t-shirts.

The "celebrate abortion" strategy for maintaining abortion rights is a strategy that she rejects--and she thinks that in order for the Democratic party to become a majority party, it also needs to reject such a strategy.

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