NARAL's Endorsement Of Obama Is Neither Disrespectful Nor Disloyal

Illustration for article titled NARAL's Endorsement Of Obama Is Neither Disrespectful Nor Disloyal

Here's a reminder of what the pro-choice movement is supposed to be fighting: the anti-choice movement. I put this picture up in case you, like a lot of women today, have forgotten that these people are the enemy, and John McCain is their candidate. Because from all the ugly backlash against NARAL Pro-Choice America's endorsement of Barack Obama yesterday, it seems like a lot of Clinton supporters have decided the enemy is Obama/NARAL and not people that are, you know, actually actively fighting to deny women the right to choose. But, hey, why bother tearing down the anti-choice movement, their leaders and the politicians that pander to them when we can just tear other pro-choice Democrats and organizations down? No one undermines women like other women, right?


With 3 weeks to go in the primaries and virtually no chance of a Clinton upset, NARAL came out yesterday in support of Barack Obama who, along with Hillary Clinton, has a 100% score on their ratings scale. (They also both score 100% with Planned Parenthood - Obama is here, Clinton is here). Besides the obvious political advantage of being the first pro-choice organization to endorse him, NARAL said this about its decision:

Sen. Obama has been a strong advocate for a woman's right to choose throughout his career in public office. He steadfastly supports and defends a woman's right to make the most personal, private decisions regarding her reproductive health without interference from government or politicians.

Sen. Obama has been a leader on this issue in the United States Senate. Since joining the Senate in 2005, he has worked to unite Americans on both side of this debate behind commonsense, common-ground ways to prevent unintended pregnancy. Sen. Obama supports legislation to provide our teens with comprehensive sex education, prevent pharmacies from denying women access to their legal birth-control prescriptions, and increase access to family-planning services.

Since then, many of NARAL's state affiliate groups have taken pains to point out that they remain neutral in the race. EMILY's List President Ellen Malcolm called the endorsement "disrespectful" of Clinton's continued pursuit of the nomination, adding, "It certainly must be disconcerting for elected leaders who stand up for reproductive rights and expect the choice community will stand with them." EMILY's List, by the way, backs only female pro-choice Democratic candidates and thus would never back Obama regardless of his stance on choice, unlike NARAL and Planned Parenthood, whose PACs support pro-choice candidates regardless of gender.

Several Congresswomen who back Clinton's bid for the nomination weighed in today, with Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz telling reporters she feels "abandoned" by NARAL and California Congresswoman Jane Harman calling it a "betrayal" that NARAL has decided to back the presumptive pro-choice Democratic nominee for the Presidency. And, of course, they're not alone in their hyperbolic condemnation of a pro-choice group endorsing a pro-choice candidate who happens to be the presumptive winner of the primaries and, you know, pro-choice. A quick glance at NARAL's blog reveals a startling 3,152 comments, many of them screeds of rage against NARAL and Obama. One great commenter, Liz B says with no apparent sense of irony:

Et tu Brute! That's quite a blow to your gender and delivered at a prime time in the campaign, too. The most rabid woman haters could not have done more damage.

It's not enough that I've endured months of witnessing "Hillary hate" in the media, on the Internet, etc., and had to listen to calls of "F——g whore" and "bitch" and "c—-t" hurled at the candidate I support. Now, at a crucial moment in this tremendously important race, you choose to betray the interests of the women of America by endorsing a man who has inspired slogans like "Bros before Ho's" and who, in appearances made after his Pennsylvania debate with Clinton, "flipped off" his opponent and her whole gender. You expect him to defend our rights?

I very much doubt that your choice will win the presidency if he is the candidate. He is no match for McCain and Huckabee (the Republicans' probable vice presidential nominee). Unlike Hillary, your guy does not connect with and cannot win over the bulk of mainstream working people in America. Huckabee, who is rooted in the religious right and sees women as the "servants of men" is perceived as a "populist" who can "talk the talk" with everyday working people. We need Hillary, with her proven ability to connect with working Americans, in the race to avoid defeat in November.

Congratulate yourselves on helping the Democrats once again fulfill their historic mission by seizing defeat from the jaws of victory once again.

Ah, yes, endorsing the candidate that is sure to be the nominee 3 weeks in advance of the concession of the candidate that almost certainly cannot win is a betrayal of the cause of choice and women everywhere. Can you hear Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter snickering with joy as they watch the pro-choice movement attack itself over a pro-choice group endorsing one pro-choice candidate over the other?

So, look, can we please, please take a deep breath, all of us, and look at the picture above and remember that McCain is no longer going to support even a rape/incest/health exception to the Republican party's anti-abortion platform rather than trying to tear down the candidate, please?


[Full disclosure: This writer volunteered for NARAL at the Million Woman March handing out stickers to, hopefully, many of you.]

NARAL Pro-Choice America Supports Obama [NARAL]
And There's Even More On NARAL [American Prospect]
EMILY's List Hits Back At NARAL [The Atlantic]
Clinton supporters push back against NARAL endorsement [Salon]
Blog For Choice [NARAL]
McCain Poised to Flip on GOP Abortion Platform [ABC]



NARAL makes mistakes. Lets not forget they endorsed Lincoln Chafee, a pro-choice Republican, over the even more Pro Choice Sheldon Whitehouse in the 2006 Rhode Island senate campaign. If their candidate had won, Democrats would be in the minority in the senate and Dick Cheney would be casting tiebreaking votes. So yes, they do make serious errors in judgment.

This is not one of them. While Obama may not have abortion rights as high on his heirarchy, he still is a staunchly pro-choice candidate going up against someone who wishes to overturn Roe and ban abortions nationwide. To call NARAL's national organization traitors to the cause of Abortion is to have far too large a bee in ones bonnet, and is further evidence of some Clinton fans using every excuse to slag our nominee in a fit of pique because their candidate isn't going to win.

I respect Senator Clinton, even more now than I did in December. She has run a brilliant campaign the past few months and if she had not made the fatal error of voting for and defending the Iraq war she would be our nominee. If she hadn't been flat outhustled in the smaller states and caucuses prior to March, she would have been our nominee. But she won't be. Continuing to attack Obama at this point serves no purpose but to tear down a candidate who is staunchly progressive on every issue, and self defeating.

I credit Clinton a great deal in her effort to win the nomination, and I certainly don't think she should drop out before Montana and South Dakota vote. But it's over. And the sooner people realize that and learn to deal with Obama as the nominee, imperfect as he is, the better off we'll be. And I say that as someone who worked for Governor Howard Dean in 2004 and had to settle for Senator John Kerry in the general.

The stakes are simply too high this year for anyone to consider taking their toys and going home, a McCain presidency means the overturning of Roe v. Wade and elimination of the fundamental right of a woman to control her own body. If I, as a slackadasical 20something male can see this, I'd hope that you all can as well.