Pro-choice groups' out-to-lunch endorsements

For many years, people inside the Washington D.C. beltway have called Social Security the third-rail of American politics. For progressives, I sometimes think the same hands-off status can be assigned to saying anything against a pro-choice group, lest one appear unsupportive of one of the central tenets of being a liberal. But, as NARAL Pro-Choice America once again decides to endorse Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and might-as-well-be-Republican Joe Lieberman, it's past time to start questioning the wisdom behind their myopic logic.

For some reason, it seems to be an almost universal policy of abortion-rights groups to endorse all pro-choice incumbents, regardless of party affiliation and with no regard whatsoever to whatever other unfortunate baggage those politicians bring with them -- even if that baggage includes stances and votes that directly trash the mission of the very groups promoting them.

By what insane rationale do pro-choice organizations like NARAL – and, in my own New York backyard, the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion (WCLA) -- believe that promoting a Republican majority in any legislative body is good for the abortion rights movement in the long term?

In endorsing even a moderate Republican like Chafee, NARAL is making a decision to also promote the broader agenda of George W. Bush and to galvanize the growing influence of the Religious Right on our national dialog. With the showdown over Republican efforts to eliminate the Senate filibuster in 2005 and the very real possibility of yet another Supreme Court justice appointed by the Bush-Cheney team, it is difficult to remember when the danger of this kind of support has been brought into such specific relief.

In addition to Republicans holding control over the executive and legislative branches of government, they have now almost completed a takeover of the judicial branch – which is the single biggest threat to Roe v. Wade and, presumably, everything organizations like NARAL are fighting for.

So, what in the world can NARAL be thinking? I understand that organizations like NARAL and Planned Parenthood are single-issue groups, whose charters compel them to accomplish their pro-choice mission by all means necessary. This includes endorsing whomever can have the most sway on behalf of their cause.

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