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NARAL and the Senate

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Given the recent discussion here about Senator Baucus’s failure to stand for a filibuster, I found this piece by Jane Hamsher to be quite interesting. In it, she argues that NARAL actually did very little to stop the confirmation of Samuel Alito, despite raising a huge amount of money over the issue. Hamsher suggests that NARAL should go after Lincoln Chaffee for doing exactly what Senator Baucus did:

Instead of holding his feet to the fire, NARAL allowed Chafee to slither out by voting in the final vote against Alito, knowing full well this was a hollow gesture. Chafee pledged his loyalty to the Gang of 14 who collectively blocked the filibuster and effectively guaranteed Alito’s confirmation. When the true test of loyalty presented itself, he chose to abandon his pro-choice friends and knuckle under to the Bush junta.

The Nation’s Katha Pollit makes the same argument:

NARAL can start by NOT endorsing pro-choice Republicans. As the Alito roll call shows, when their party calls, they obey. Even supposedly feminist “republican for choice’ Olympia Snowe. If the pro-choice republicans had backed the filibuster, Alito would not have been confirmed today. Whatever their private beliefs about women’s reproductive rights, they are soldiers in the wrong army.

What I don’t understand is the argument that Republicans should be criticized more for this issue than Democrats. Either a vote for the filibuster was a matter of conscience and critical importance to the pro-choice movement, or it wasn’t. To demand that NARAL and other supporters of abortion rights refuse to support pro-choice Republicans over this issue while giving pro-choice Democrats like Baucus a free pass is a manifestation of rank hypocrisy and political opportunism.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

4 Comments

  • Believe it or not, I agree with you.

    If NARAL makes the vote on the filibuster blocking Alito’s confirmation one of their targeted votes, then by all means pull support from D and R alike who would not filibuster.

    However – that decision is a couple of steps too far from what NARAL can defend to its board….and that is simply a guess, so don’t think I have anything shiny and fancy like facts to back that up.

    I understand where Pollit and Hamsher are coming from, but I think that NARAL ‘gets’ it, just like I ‘get’ it. They’re not ready to repeatedly kick their friends in the asses over a decision about a vote that may end up in another vote.

  • Here’s my difficulty with this. It seems disengenuous to me to make this a huge fund raising push, followed up by very little action by NARAL. Makes me a little cynical.

    I also wonder about abortion and Montana. Anyone seen any recent polling on the issue?

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