It’s no surprise that the comments are a chorus of disappointment from NARAL supporters about the organization opting to take sides against one of its long-time allies, Bernie Sanders. I share their disappointment, and can’t help but feeling that NARAL has alienated a major segment of its base, while getting little in return from Hillary. This decision should have been delayed until the nomination contest was settled. NARAL staff and volunteers knocking on doors for Hillary over Sanders are resources that aren’t deployed to fight local and national battles against abortion opponents.
But this also raises a larger issue about strategy and direction. Whose reproductive rights is Hillary Clinton a champion for? Is there a price to be paid for supporting the viciously anti-choice Welfare “Reform” of the 1990s? How can poor women be empowered to choose whether to have a child or not? Would a President Clinton or a President Sanders be committed to repealing the Hyde Amendment and allowing Medicaid to fund abortions? (An even more serious question now that Medicaid is the health insurance provider for a greatly enlarged number of poor and working-class women.) Why is there no Federal initiative to counter the wave of 288 new state-level restrictions on abortion since 2011? What initiative is needed to provide women in the 87% of counties that Ilyse Hogue mentions above with better access to reproductive care?
Every time I hear a national organization supporting abortion rights talk about the fifth vote to defend Roe v. Wade on the Supreme Court, I am reminded of the lack of either strategy or champions on these critical issues. Nothing could have better served the political environment on this issue than forcing the Democratic candidates to compete for NARAL’s endorsement by stepping up on these vital questions.