Angry pro-choice Republicans

What happens when you're pro-choice and your party goes all "no exception for rape and incest" on you?

By Sarah Goldstein
March 29, 2006 2:02AM (UTC)
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An interesting piece on Alternet today asks pro-choice Republicans how they're responding to the antiabortion firestorm raging in their party. Not too happily, it turns out. At best, they're organizing to find pro-choice candidates, as in the Pennsylvania "Hunt for Real Republicans" campaign. At worst (for the GOP, that is), pro-choicers are shirking years of party loyalty and becoming Dems. As Elisabeth Ecke, 74, told Alternet, she's been voting the party line since Eisenhower, but four years ago she finally threw in the towel. "I'm supporting mostly Democrats for one simple reason: choice. People say you can't be a one issue voter and I say, 'yes I can.'"

Although pro-choice Republicans have grown increasingly frustrated with their party since Bush's first day in office, when he reinstated the "global gag rule," effectively halting funding to overseas family planning clinics, tensions came to the fore this year with the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and finally South Dakota's abortion ban. Republican Majority for Choice executive director Kellie Ferguson told Alternet that "immediately after the South Dakota law passed many of the RMC's 150,000 members called and emailed the group threatening to leave the Republican Party unless the tide changes."


Alternet does well to raise the question: What hell were they waiting for? Bush's views have been clear from the start. But as Anne Stone, executive director of another pro-choice Republican group, Republicans for Choice, said, "Moderates by nature are peaceful and don't want to rock the boat." But, she continued, "The party needs to take a look at itself and what it's become because it has gotten away from its basic ideals." Stone went on to point out that even though Republicans are in power, "the reason there's never been an up and down vote in Congress to frontally assault Roe is because they know the debate would kill them." Alternet reports that Stone "welcomed the South Dakota law because it has split the anti-choice movement and forces anti-choice Republicans to publicly take a stand on exceptions for rape and incest."

While it's encouraging to hear dissenting voices coming from the right, it's more than a little confounding that people who say they are pro-choice belong to a party whose platform promises to "oppose funding organizations involved in abortion," "support a human life amendment to the Constitution," and "endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children"? Shouldn't they have seen this coming? But who knows, maybe that's just our crazy liberal interpretation.

Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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