After nearly derailing the health care bill that passed the House on Sunday, the abortion issue is poised to make a political comeback, returning the familiar wedge issue to the campaign trail after a brief hiatus.I couldn't be more thrilled (where "thrilled" = "filled with a creeping feeling of dread and anxiety").
Not because the issue is "poised to make a political comeback," which is, as I've previously pointed out, total bullshit—the battle over abortion has never gone away; it's just been moved into different territory—but because the media are signaling a renewed interest in their largely dormant game of "Let's Use Abortion to Play Political Football!"
Some of the most irresponsible reporting I've seen in my life has been about "the abortion issue," inflaming defenders of choice and their opponents with rhetoric about the morality of abortion, while wholly ignoring the inarguable immorality of the terror campaign waged by anti-choice extremists.
The Washington Post's whitewashed profile of anti-abortion terrorist Randall Terry last July was quite the opening salvo in this tiresome and dangerous game. At the time, I wrote: "Are the editors over there worried there won't be anything left to write about if there isn't an incessant and constantly escalating abortion battle in this country? Are the lives of the people hurt—the doctors murdered, the clinic staff endangered, the patients harassed and threatened—by people like and/or associated with Terry so insignificant, their value totally contingent on their newsworthiness as targets, that the WaPo would actually aid Terry in a comeback?" The answer was yes.
The ongoing campaign against women and the people who provide abortion services and safe havens for them is demonstrably a campaign of terror—but no one in our media will call it terrorism.
More alarmingly, neither will anyone in our Democratically-led government. There are, in fact, a lot of things that don't get called terrorism in this country, but few of them approach the breadth of the long-term, flagrant campaign of intimidation, harassment, exhorted violence, attempted violence, actual violence, and murder of abortion providers and abortion-seeking women.
Still, our government is unwilling to call this orchestrated, overt, unapologetic campaign against women and their healthcare providers terrorism, even as increasing numbers of doctors say offering the legal service to their patients is not worth the risk—the very definition of effective terrorism. Even as physician champions of women's right to choose are murdered in cold blood. Even as "pro-life" groups openly celebrate his death and take the position that he deserved it. In the history of this blog, I've gotten death threats accompanied by pictures of dead fetuses right in my comments threads by people who know that the government, and the media, will not take them seriously.
And will, in fact, happily throw fuel on the fire, as long as the conflagration makes money. Or as long as the threat to abortion (never mind the threat to abortionists, or abortion-seekers, or abortion activists) keeps driving voters to the polls.
It's frankly devastating to see this particular mill getting handed more political grist during a Democratic presidency, but Obama the Great Bipartisan continues to treat abortion (wrongly) as a mere difference of opinion on which middle ground can be found.
Upon hearing of Dr. Tiller's death, President Obama said he was "shocked" and "outraged," but if he had been paying the slightest bit of attention to the realities of the front line of the fight to protect women's bodily autonomy, he would not have been shocked. This wasn't even the first attempt on Dr. Tiller's life; it was the merely the first successful one.
And yet President Obama still admonishes pro-choice advocates to respect the views of anti-choice activists, despite the fact there is very good reason not to afford a modicum of respect for a viewpoint that would force women to relinquish control over their own bodies to the state. Like the fact that both sides of this "debate" aren't equal, and it's not just because one side contains mainstream organizations who tacitly encourage the murder of doctors.
It's absolutely infuriating we've got a president who invites to do the invocation at his inauguration a man who equates abortion with the Holocaust, who tells lies himself about pro-choice advocates in order to play a bullshit game of "both sides are just as bad," who panders to anti-choice elements in his own party, the party ostensibly there to protect choice, and he doesn't seem to recognize or care how perilously inflammatory it all is.
Obama, and the Democrats, have ceded ground on abortion. The media is eager to play the fun and frenetic game of Abortion Tug-o-War with two "equal" sides again. And so here we are.
"It's Back." Like a B-movie monster.
Except, unlike B-movie monsters, the abortion "debate"—and its accommodation of extremists to protract a battle that should have been settled a lifetime ago—will leave real people dead in its wake.