Feminist writer Lindy West wrote a column in The New York Times Wednesday responding to comments by the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) that there is no litmus test for candidates on abortion. West argues that for women abortion is “liberty” and views it as a non-negotiable human rights issue.
West opens by acknowledging that she relates “to the flailing panic that is no doubt undergirding such a morally putrescent idea.”
The “morally putrescent” idea presumably being that of the Democratic Party abandoning support of a practice that stops the beating hearts of hundreds of thousands of babies each year.
“There is no recognizable version of the Democratic Party that does not fight unequivocally against half its constituents’ being stripped of ownership of their own bodies and lives,” West argues. “This issue represents everything Democrats purport to stand for.”
Somebody should tell that to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who recently argued against using abortion as a litmus test for the party, acknowledging that most of her devout Catholic extended family was pro-life.
West argues that “to legislatively oppose abortion is to be, at best, indifferent to the disenfranchisement, suffering and possibly even the death of women,” but “at worst it is to revel in those things, to believe them fundamental to the natural order.”
She acknowledges that that the left “will have to choose (and soon) between absolute ideological purity and the huge numbers required to seize the rudder of the nation and avert global catastrophe.”
“But abortion is not valid fodder for such compromise," she says, "nor is racism, nor is L.G.B.T.Q. equality, nor is any issue that puts people’s fundamental humanity up for debate. Abortion is not a fringe issue. Abortion is liberty.”
Interestingly enough, those on the other side of the abortion issue would agree with West’s assertion that abortion “puts people’s fundamental humanity up for debate.”
“There is no economic equality without the ability to terminate a pregnancy,” West argues.
Many pro-life women, who view the argument that women can’t succeed without the ability to end the life of their unborn child as demeaning, would disagree with West.
However, a recent Gallup poll found that only 43 percent of Americans consider abortion to be “morally acceptable” regardless of their views on its legality.
She goes on to emphasize that abortion is not controversial on the left and asks “what contortionist of logic came up with the proposal that alienating 75 percent of one’s constituents, and declaring half to not deserve control over their bodies, can strengthen a party’s numbers? This is not broadening our coalition; it’s flagrantly shrinking it.”
West is on to something when she identifies abortion as a central issue because it puts women’s lives at stake. But perhaps she should consider that abortion’s legality puts women’s lives on the line from the moment their hearts start beating in the womb and that some Democrats should be permitted to hold and act on that view.