Michael J. New: Some Advice to Democratic Presidential Candidates on the Issue of Abortion

The New York Times ran an interesting op-ed by Michael Wear, who directed faith outreach for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and served as an adviser in the Obama White House. In his op-ed, Wear chastises the Democratic party’s presidential candidates for their leftward lurch on abortion. He points out that many voters — even a high percentage of Democratic voters — oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. Wear cites polling data showing that many racial minorities — a key Democratic constituency — support limiting abortion. He convincingly argues that the strident, uncompromising, and absolutist position taken by Democratic politicians on abortion may well hurt them with swing voters during the 2020 election.

He urges those politicians instead to take a moderate approach, specifically encouraging them to express moral reservations about abortion and be open to supporting limitations on abortion late in pregnancy, with certain exceptions. Wear also encourages presidential candidates to support a variety of policies with the purpose of reducing the abortion rate in the U.S., including paid family leave, workplace protections for pregnant women, increased access to contraception, and strengthened social programs. Wear says that this was President Obama’s approach and hints that these policy choices resulted in abortion rates being at a historic low when Obama left office.

Unsurprisingly, given that he worked for him, Wear gives Obama more credit than he deserves. Aside from signing appropriations bills with Hyde amendment protections to prevent direct federal funding of abortion, Obama never supported any legislation that would limit abortion. And he was never an abortion moderate. As a state senator in Illinois, he voted against the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which would’ve protected infants born alive in botched abortion procedures.

What’s more, there’s no definitive evidence that the policy tools Wear describes actually will lower abortion rates. Some research suggests that programs intended to increase contraception use tend to be either ineffective at best or counterproductive at worst. Additionally, multiple studies have found that few sexually active women say that they forgo contraception due either to high cost or lack of availability.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael J. New