Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Culture Clash

There are 53 Democrats and in the United States Senate, and 14 of them, at least, refuse to look the other way. On Tuesday, thirteen of them sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a letter asserting

We are writing to express our disappointment with your December 7, 2011 decision to block the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommendation to make Plan B One-Step available over-the-counter.... We ask that you share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on for the decision to overrule the FDA recommendation.

We now know the names of the fourteen United States Senators most opposed to abortion- not to the right to select an abortion, but to abortion. The action taken by Sebelius, the first Secretary to overrule an FDA recommendation, clearly will increase the number of abortions requested and performed as the number of unwanted pregnancies increase.

This will be not only the girls, those under the age of 17, most affected by the ruling, many of whom will be unable to obtain a prescription for Plan B in the crucial three-day window because they are unable to get to their doctor, are too embarrassed to go to the physician, or don't even have a health-care provider. It includes girls and women 17 years of age and up, who will continue to have to obtain the medication from behind the counter. Consider that some of them have access to only one drug store in a town sufficiently small that everyone knows each other.... and talks to each other, especially about a 15- or 16- year old local who suddenly needs something to avert conception.

No doubt some of those 86 Senators are partial to family planning but have their own reasons not to question a decision which will have as an unintended consequence the birth of babies to girls and women unprepared to be mothers. But some of those 86 no doubt see such a consequence, though unintended, as not undesirable.

Amazing. Consider all the Republicans in Congress, think tanks, and various interest group who never miss an opportunity to criticize President Obama and are reputedly anti-abortion. Yet, not a one has uttered a word of criticism for a decision which will increase the incidence of abortion. One might almost suspect that they are far less anti-abortion than something else.

That something else can be gleaned from The Marriage Vow of The Family Leader, the right-wing group which has gotten Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry to sign its 24-point pledge. The other day, Newt Gingrich was permitted by the leader of the Iowa-based organization, Bob Vander Plaats, to avoid signing but instead to "affirm strong support of the mission of the Family Leader" and vow to take various consistent actions as President.

Among the policy planks is "humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy" from such things as human trafficking, pornography, prostitution, infanticide, and abortion. But it does not swear allegiance toward prohibiting abortion under specific circumstances nor to reversing Roe v. Wade. It does advocate "recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial (emphasis theirs) to U.S. "demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security."

From the GOP National Convention in St. Paul in September, 2008, National Review's Byron York reported about the reaction of Republicans to news of the teenage pregnancy of unmarried Bristol Palin:

Earlier in the day, just after I heard the news, I called Marlys Popma, the well-known Iowa evangelical leader who is now the head of evangelical outreach for the McCain campaign.Like Sue Sharkey from Colorado, Popma had a story to tell. It turns out she had had a child out of wedlock nearly 30 years ago, and it changed her life.“It was my crisis pregnancy that brought me into the movement,” Popma told me.“My reaction is that this shows that the governor’s family is just like so many families.That’s how my first child came into the world, and I’m just thrilled that [Bristol Palin] is choosing to give this child life.”

I asked Popma what she thought the larger reaction among evangelicals will be.“Their reaction is going to be exactly as mine,” she told me.“There hasn’t been one evangelical family that hasn’t gone through some sort of situation.Many of us are in this movement because of something that has happened in our lives.”

As for now, at least, evangelicals seem to be completely on Palin’s side.And McCain’s.This is a group that has been skeptical of McCain in the past.Now, it’s probably fair to say that he has never been more popular among evangelicals than he is at this moment.Whether that will last, or whether Palin will cost McCain support among other voters, is not yet clear. But within the confines of the Republican Convention, McCain’s surprising choice of Palin — and the equally surprising news about her family — is paying off.

It's not about abortion anymore. But it is about the value of giving birth, "robust childbearing and reproduction," even if the women are unmarried and unemployed girls.

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