Obama’s on a fucking roll with all these conservative about-faces, now, isn’t he? It’s like he’ll do anything to kiss Conservative America’s ass. I never thought he was particularly liberal, and I’ve always been annoyed at how he promoted himself as the next great civil rights leader (original he is not). But when it came down to it, I voted for him over Hillary because I simply could not abide by her racist tactics. That’s not a president I want.
Then again, neither is Obama.
If casting my ballot for him hurt my soul in February, it’s going to feel like there’s a damn gun to my head come November. Why are we always forced to choose between Asshole and Bigger Asshole during presidential elections?
There’s been a whole buttload of things Obama’s done lately to piss me off (FISA, supporting the death penalty for child rapists, following Bush’s lead on faith-based initiatives, backpedaling on NAFTA, to name a few). But this is beyond infuriating. From an interview he recently gave to Relevant Magazine:
Strang: Based on emails we received, another issue of deep importance to our readers is a candidate’s stance on abortion. We largely know your platform, but there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?
Obama: I absolutely can, so please don’t believe the emails. I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.
What. the. FUCK?
First off, I’m furious that he perpetuated that stereotype of the silly woman who just up and decides in her 8th month that no, she doesn’t want this thing after all, so she should get an abortion. In reality? Only 0.5% of all abortions are third-term procedures. It is damned near impossible to get one, unless there are serious problems related to the pregnancy. For someone who hates bullshit rumors so much, he sure has no trouble perpetuating them himself to get ahead.
But I think what infuriates me the most is his dismissal of a woman’s mental health as a factor in terminating a pregnancy. As Jill from Feministe points out:
That’s a talking point that you hear a lot from anti-choicers: That mental health is a “loophole” through which any undeserving baby-carrier could legitimately terminate her pregnancy.
But mental health underlies many of actual reasons women have late-term abortions. Take severe fetal abnormalities — where a wanted pregnancy goes wrong, and the problem isn’t discovered until relatively late. In many situations — anencephaly, for example — carrying the pregnancy to term might not be any more dangerous than carrying a healthy fetus to term. Pregnancy and childbirth always come with serious risks, and it’s often impossible to know which risks will arise, but many fetal abnormalities don’t pose the kind of physical harm to the pregnant woman that would seem to pass anti-choice (and now, Obama) muster. (To be clear, many fetal abnormalities do pose significant health risks — it’s just not the rule. Which is precisely why this issue should be evaluated case-by-case between a woman and her doctor, and politicians should butt out). So even though many fetal abnormalities don’t threaten the pregnant woman’s health or life, most people seem to agree that it’s cruel to force a woman to give birth to a baby that cannot possibly survive (if it’s even born alive, which many anencephalic fetuses aren’t). But if a doomed pregnancy doesn’t threaten a pregnant woman’s physical health, why would we allow her to terminate it?
Because, obviously, it threatens her mental health in no small way. Being forced to carry a wanted but doomed pregnancy, and being forced to go through childbirth to produce a dead or dying baby, is understandably deeply emotionally traumatic. We want to give women the option to avoid that kind of mental trauma because we recognize that physical harm is not the only harm that matters.
He then follows up this little gem with his support of abstinence only education and a focus on adoptions so that women won’t have to get abortions. In other words, he gives the typical Republican/anti-choice response.
There are those who will dismiss his pandering as “a politician doing his job,” or saying that “he’s saying that now in order to get into office, and then he’ll be amazing and do what needs to be done.”
Sorry, not buying it.
If you’re going to present yourself as a modern day progressive leader, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to the guy who wrote JFK’s speeches and trying to channel MLK while appropriating Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta/getting celebs to propagate your “si se puede” bullshit (no, I’m not going to ever let that go), then you’d better put your money where your mouth is.
And really, I don’t know what he thinks he stands to gain by all this. People who are opposed to abortion are never going to vote for him; McCain, with his anti-woman policies, has those votes in the bag. No amount of fudging things to the Right is going to change that.
He’s walking around acting like he has the liberal vote guaranteed, and he doesn’t. He has everything to lose by continuing all this about-face bullshit. There are people who won’t vote, or who will vote third-party, if he keeps this up. (I’d threaten to be one of those people, but the mere thought of President McCain makes me want to pass out and die.) And so I will vote for him come November, but I won’t be happy about it.
Can’t say others will be inclined to do the same.