Rev. Jim Wallis Needs a Reality Check on Abortion Reduction Plank

Scott Swenson

Rev. Jim Wallis may be spoiling for a fight on reducing abortion, but he's picking on the wrong side of the political spectrum.

The Rev. Jim Wallis lives in a world where his self-reinforcing ideas become his divine reality. Today he has called for the Democratic Party to adopt an "Abortion Reduction Plank" to the party’s platform. What Wallis should realize is that many Democrats and moderate Republicans are already doing the hard work such a plank would call for. As opposed to picking a fight with the left, Wallis should be working with reproductive health advocates, asking why it is the far-right gets away with opposing common sense education and prevention ideas.

Comprehensive sexuality education, contraception and the prevention of unintended pregnancies, improved adoption and foster care and better health care for low-income families that include pre- and post-natal care, are all issues that progressives have been pushing for quite some time.

At one time Rev. Wallis believed social issues like sexual health and rights were too divisive, choosing to focus on the environment and poverty instead. Apparently abortion is good for headlines again.

From ABC:

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“This is going to be a big Denver conversation,” said Wallis. “You
don’t have to call for criminalizing anyone. You don’t have to take a
different stance about a woman’s right to choose. But you begin with
the need for reducing abortion dramatically."

The abortion reduction plank that Wallis envisions would call for
making adoption easier, supporting low-income women, and stepping up
pregnancy prevention efforts.

Without calling for restrictions such as parental consent laws,
Wallis believes that if the Democrats were to alter their abortion
platform, it could help them make inroads among young evangelicals and
Catholics.

“Taking abortion seriously as a moral issue would help Democrats a
great deal with a constituency that is already leaning in their
direction on poverty and the environment,” said Wallis. “There are
literally millions of votes at stake.”

 

Yes, Rev. Wallis there are millions of votes, as well as women’s health and lives at stake, which is why the reproductive health community has been leading the fight for education and prevention issues. For us, it is not an issue of political convenience, or publicity, but the ultimate question about women’s health and rights to determine how, when and how often to bring life into the world.

Instead of taking time to learn what advocates in the reproductive health care community actually believe and work towards, Wallis has at times bought into the "pro-life" social conservative talking points that would have people believe the GOP is the "big tent party" as he said in 2004, more accepting of pro-choice views than Democrats are of "pro-life" views.



Ironically, the Republicans, who actively and successfully
court the votes of Christians on abortion, are much more ecumenical in
their own toleration of a variety of views within their own party.

 

He might want to consult some pro-choice Republicans on that, like this piece on Rewire from Darlee Crockett, Chair of Planned Parenthood’s Republicans for Choice. He could also see that pro-choice Democrats are already seeing common ground with "pro-life" Democrats on prevention issues, and see that the real divisiveness on this issue is in the GOP, in two excellent pieces by Dana Goldstein.

Rev. Wallis has supported some education and prevention measures in Congress so he should understand that his ideas about pro-choice advocates are dated, and colored by social conservatives who DO NOT believe in education and prevention. The far-right wing of the GOP (and complicit Democratic Congressional leadership) prefers to keep using federal tax dollars on failed abstinence-only programs, denying the integration of family planning and HIV services to better help women and girls abroad, and persuading people to ban contraception, with slogans like "The Pill Kills."

As opposed to picking a fight with the left, he should start asking his fellow religious leaders on the far-right why they are so opposed to common sense education and prevention efforts. Anyone truly interested in reframing the debate about women’s health understands that’s where the real problems are.

News Politics

Tim Kaine Changes Position on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back the Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate, has promised to stand with nominee Hillary Clinton in opposing the Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for abortion care.

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that Kaine “has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde amendment,” according to the network’s transcript.

“Voters can be 100 percent confident that Tim Kaine is going to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Mook said.

The commitment to opposing Hyde was “made privately,” Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson later clarified to CNN’s Edward Mejia Davis.

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Kaine’s stated support for ending the federal ban on abortion funding is a reversal on the issue for the Virginia senator. Kaine this month told the Weekly Standard  that he had not “been informed” that this year’s Democratic Party platform included a call for repealing the Hyde Amendment. He said he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

Repealing the Hyde Amendment has been an issue for Democrats on the campaign trail this election cycle. Speaking at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in January, Clinton denounced Hyde, noting that it made it “harder for low-income women to exercise their full rights.”

Clinton called the federal ban on abortion funding “hard to justify” when asked about it later that month at the Brown and Black Presidential Forum, adding that “the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.”

Clinton’s campaign told Rewire during her 2008 run for president that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

The Democratic Party on Monday codified its commitment to opposing Hyde, as well as the Helms Amendment’s ban on foreign assistance funds being used for abortion care. 

The Obama administration, however, has not signaled support for rolling back Hyde’s ban on federal funding for abortion care.

When asked about whether the president supported the repeal of Hyde during the White House press briefing Tuesday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said he did not “believe we have changed our position on the Hyde Amendment.”

When pushed by a reporter to address if the administration is “not necessarily on board” with the Democratic platform’s call to repeal Hyde, Schultz said that the administration has “a longstanding view on this and I don’t have any changes in our position to announce today.”

News Politics

Democratic Party Platform: Repeal Bans on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

When asked this month about the platform’s opposition to Hyde, Hillary Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said that he had not “been informed of that” change to the platform though he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde Amendment.”

Democrats voted on their party platform Monday, codifying for the first time the party’s stated commitment to repealing restrictions on federal funding for abortion care.

The platform includes a call to repeal the Hyde Amendment, an appropriations ban on federal funding for abortion reimplemented on a yearly basis. The amendment disproportionately affects people of color and those with low incomes.

“We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured,” states the Democratic Party platform. “We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.”

The platform also calls for an end to the Helms Amendment, which ensures that “no foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.”

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Though Helms allows funding for abortion care in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment, the Obama administration has failed to enforce those guarantees.

Despite the platform’s opposition to the restrictions on abortion care funding, it makes no mention of how the anti-choice measures would be rolled back.

Both presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have promised to address Hyde and Helms if elected. Clinton has said she would “fix the Helms Amendment.”

Speaking at the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum in January, Clinton said that the Hyde Amendment “is just hard to justify because … certainly the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.” In 2008, Clinton’s campaign told Rewire that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

When asked this month about the platform’s opposition to Hyde, Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said in an interview with the Weekly Standard that he had not “been informed of that” change to the platform though he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

“The Hyde amendment and Helms amendment have prevented countless low-income women from being able to make their own decisions about health, family, and future,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement, addressing an early draft of the platform. “These amendments have ensured that a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion is a right that’s easier to access if you have the resources to afford it. That’s wrong and stands directly in contrast with the Democratic Party’s principles, and we applaud the Party for reaffirming this in the platform.”