November 3, 2008
Obama's Abortion Straightjacket
Should he win, Obama will need to early on figure out how to get out of a political straight jacket of his own making: on abortion. His challenge will not be traversing the political parties but two Democratic constituencies who both worked hard for him and want very different things.
For the last few months, pro-life progressives have pushed hard the idea that Obama would help reduce the number of abortions through common ground efforts to help women avoid pregnancy or carry babies to term.
One group ran ads in battleground states explaining that Democrats could reduce abortion more than Republicans. Another argued against banning abortion as imprtactical and said abortions could be reduced if policies provided medical and financial care that would help women "choose life."
Pro-life progressives have publically assured voters that Obama would be committed to reducing the number of abortions.
On the other hand, Obama said early in the campaign that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, a fairly radical bill that would wipe out state abortion restrictions. Pro-choice groups have worked hard for Obama, too, and take that commitment seriously.
How will he bridge that gulf?
(Originally posted at Steve Waldman's blog at Beliefnet.)