Is "Purity" Really a Problem In Politics?


Reproductive rights continues to be flashpoint in this election cycle. On the one hand, critics are assailing reproductive health groups for being "too rigid" by not supporting candidates who aren't with them on every issue important to the organization. On the other hand, anti-choice groups are criticizing their own politicians for not toeing the line on absolutely every agenda item that matters to them.

This "do as I say, not as I do" argument has become most apparent over the weekend, as former news anchor Campbell Brown penned an op-ed criticizing Planned Parenthood Federation of America over its lack of support of Republican candidates like Illinois Congressman Robert Dold. Angered by the fact that the reproductive health organization is not assisting him in his reelection campaign, Brown writes in the New York Times:

Planned Parenthood is potentially making an enemy of someone who has failed to pass its purity test. It’s gotten to the point where, in this election cycle, the group’s political arm (while proudly claiming to be nonpartisan) has not endorsed or directly given money to a single Republican. As a person who believes abortions should be safe, legal and rare, I support many of Planned Parenthood’s goals. But the militancy must go. Demanding a perfect record from candidates it supports has already left Planned Parenthood marginalized. So does an attitude that doesn’t ever seem to take into account that abortion is a morally complicated matter or that those on the anti-abortion side are often decent and well-intentioned people.

Dold may consider himself to be pro-choice, but that didn't stop him from voting for H.R. 3, the so-called "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" Act, which would ban any federal funds from being used in any health care plan that covers abortion, as well as stating that he opposed any federal funding for abortion itself.

Brown seems to think that just calling himself pro-choice and saying he supports Planned Parenthood should be enough to make the Congressman worthy of support from the group, despite their disagreements on other issues. But "good enough" doesn't seem to hold true when it comes to trying to keep Republicans in line when it comes to curbing reproductive freedom. 

Anti-choice activists are being called on to pressure a few of their own legislators who have been deemed refusing to toe the line on rubber stamping anti-abortion legislation. The public faces of the Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women for America and Americans United for Life are putting the screws on Republican Congresswomen Mary Bono Mack and Nan Hayworth for not voting with the party on the Prenatal Non Discrimination Act (PRENDA).

“It is astounding that in a country where federal and state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in various contexts – such as employment, education, and housing – Nan Hayworth and Mary Bono Mack voted against protecting unborn female children from discrimination based on their sex.

“Take Action: Ask Congresswoman Hayworth and Congresswoman Bono Mack why they chose to stand with the abortion lobby rather than defend women from the lethal discrimination of sex-selection abortion.”

Hayworth has voted nearly lockstep with her party when it comes to abortion funding, de-funding Planned Parenthood, and overturning the Affordable Care Act. Bono Mack has been less consistent, voting against a ban on federal funding of Planned Parenthood but otherwise supporting the other bans as well.  Yet those two are the subjects of anti-choice campaigns to get them back on track.

When will Brown write her op-ed scolding the anti-choice groups for not being supportive enough of politicians who support their agenda "80 percent" of the time?  I won't be holding my breath.

RH Reality Check / By Robin Marty

Posted at June 26, 2012, 5:28am

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