Wednesday, May 14

:: Shame on NARAL

With one despicable endorsement, Nancy Keenan puts the last nail in NARAL's coffin.

First, let's get one thing straight: NARAL is irrelevant. Those of us within the movement who have had the misfortune of attending their yearly galas know its more like a wake than a celebration. Gone are the clusters of members of Congress and celebrities.

Gone are the tables featuring the big-dog presidents of major organizations. What's left are a bunch of interns and low level staff sent to fill up the seats at the tables their employers paid for. NARAL has virtually no grassroots and they've been invisible so far in the presidential race. We all knew that when Kate left NARAL was going to go D-List. But I didn't think things would end in such a embarrassing way.

As I'm sure you know, they've endorsed Obama. I could not be more disgusted. I guess they forgot that they are supposed to support champions for choice, not just the guy who fills out the questionnaire okay. I guess they have forgotten how important ICPD is, VAWA, SCHIP and so on. I note that in NARAL's endorsement statement they don't list any substantial accomplishments Obama has made on women's issues.

Apparently none of that matters.

And apparently Obama's squirmy position on choice has been forgotten too. So let's refresh our memories, shall we? I'll point back to three previous entries at the Canary that discuss this problem.

First there are his answers at last month's Compassion Forum in Gratham, Pennsylvania. To be clear, he refers to himself as pro-choice. But he also uses language that should worry women's rights advocates. It should worry them because the point of using waffle language like this is to imply that you would be willing to deal around the edges. He sounds very uncomfortable - like he's trying to squirm around the questions.

"I think we will continue to suggest that that's the right legal framework to deal with the issue. But at least we can start focusing on how to move in a better direction than the one we've been in the past."

There is also this answer to a question about life beginning at conception:

"What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates."

Pondering moral issues is fine in the context of personal decisions. When it comes to legal frameworks, "moral weight" sounds a lot like something you balance against a woman's fundamental right to autonomy. Actually, it reminds me Justice Kennedy's dreadful opinion from the last time SCOTUS took this up.

How about this, from the RH Reality Check candidate questionnaire:

Question: Does (the candidate) support any restrictions on abortion, or does s/he believe it should be entirely up to women?

Obama's answer: Obama supports those restrictions that are consistent with the legal framework outlined by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade."

Again, every restriction we have on the books has been considered by the Supreme Court to be consistent within Roe's framework.

Again, not a leader. Not a champion.

And neither is NARAL. Say goodnight, Nancy.


Kirsten said...

I can only assume that this is a political decision -- because clearly if they were going to endorse a champion for choice, Obama -- lovely as he is -- would not be their choice. So WTF? What do you think is the reasoning behind this boneheaded move?

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what the reasoning was. They want to sit at the cool kids table. They want to be players. One way to be a player is to be an early supporter. You get invited to a lot of small events, one on one time, even some policy development.
But, lets be clear. This, is in no way, EARLY. It is not even middle. NARAL meet Johnny Come Lately.
This is so about NARAL as an org and not even a little bit abou the issue.
Which sucks on so many levels.