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Democrats Are Still Compromising Away Women's Rights -- What's Wrong with the Pro-Choice Movement's Strategy?

After the Obama administration's decision to overrule the FDA on the morning-after pill, activists are asking yet again, what went wrong?

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Asked what more the national prochoice organizations could do to improve their chances of winning on the national level, Ross said, “Those folks that have the resources to hire researchers should delve more deeply into nonwhite voters. They should spend more resources determining messages that move nonwhite voters.”

SisterSong has a report coming out in January that compiles a year's worth of research on what African Americans actually think about abortion that Ross said would provide some hard data to push back against conventional wisdom and scare tactics.

Sye pointed out Planned Parenthood's site,  Women are Watching, which tracks candidates' statements on women's health, abortion and contraceptives. He also stressed the importance of grassroots activism, of “Folks making their voices heard in positive and negative ways on positive and negative decisions.”

Democrats Aren't (All) On Your Side

First, there was Stupak. Democrat Bart Stupak's push to insert language into the healthcare reform bill that would make it even harder to get abortion care paid for by insurance—even private insurance. Then the Republican House served up bill after bill, each time gaining some  Democratic support -- mostly from the right-leaning Blue Dogs, but also from normally progressive representatives like Marcy Kaptur -- intended to further restrict abortion access or cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood and other healthcare providers that also provide abortions.

And now Plan B, which by no stretch of the imagination has anything to do with abortion other than preventing the need for them by helping avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Steph Herold told AlterNet, “On the one hand, we have Republicans, who have demonstrated time and again that despite the flailing economy, their number one priority is restricting access to reproductive health, not just for women, but for all low-income folks and young people. On the other hand, we have the Democrats, who are kind of like our movement's bad boyfriend. We want to love them, we really do, but they keep going behind our back and betraying us.”

Many Democratic women, normally champions of reproductive rights, have tempered their outrage over Sebelius' move. While  14 Dems (including Kirsten Gillibrand, John Kerry, Patty Murray and Al Franken) sent a letter to Sebelius asking her to explain her reasoning on the decision, calling for her to “share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on,” many of them are holding their fire for another looming battle: the war over a religious exemption that would allow Catholic hospitals and schools to refuse to pay for contraception for their employees.

Gwen Moore, a Democratic Rep. from Wisconsin whose statements on the House floor on the importance of reproductive choice made her a  viral video star earlier this year, told the  Huffington Post:

"I think that while this was huge, [the birth control decision] is really, really huge and has an impact on millions and millions of women who would not have access to birth control...I'm withholding my dragon fire for that. I think the president has not been with us 100 percent, but I don't think he's thrown women totally under the bus -- if he says he did not intervene in this decision, I believe him."

If our staunchest prochoice voices in Congress keep withholding their dragon fire for the "bigger battles" while we keep losing ground, eventually there will be no big battles to win.

And the Democratic party spends  millions reelecting antichoice Dems while its fundraising efforts  blame Republicans for antichoice moves. It's time to come to terms with the fact that, as Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America told  Megan Carpentier, “A Democratic majority is not a prochoice majority”--and a Democratic president doesn't mean prochoice executive decisions. And that means prochoice organizations need to pressure the Democrats when they are in office as well as fight to get them elected."