Lukewarm Stances and Lazy Politicians

Reproductive rights need bolder legislative support.

The allyship of pro-choice politicians is instrumental for the continued maintenance of reproductive rights for all. Though many in the movement are right to be thankful for the politicians’ allyship, there is also a large need for politicians to do better. It is time for life-long politicians to update their pro-choice arguments with those of the movement. This includes abandoning language dedicated to supporting exceptions such as in cases of rape or incest and pivoting to language centered on people’s bodily autonomy. The exceptional argument is a decades-long one. It is an argument that allows liberal politicians to be lazy when advocating for abortion access. Bodily autonomy is a more comprehensive, contemporary, and developed argument that liberals should widely adopt. The pro-life party has stopped providing exceptions for these instances, so it is time for pro-choice allied lawmakers to stop compromising at the bare minimum: exceptions for rape, incest, and the life and health of a mother.

The past month has seen the revival of many protests following the leaked court opinion of Justice Samuel Alito. The opinion has given many conservatives the fodder they needed to push more conservative anti-abortion legislation. Many lawmakers such as those in Oklahoma have utilized their allegiance to states’ rights over federal oversight to justify their increasingly stringent laws on abortion. This includes the bill passed by the Oklahoma legislature that bans, without exception, abortion from the moment of fertilization. Exception cases make up less than 1% of all abortions, yet the predominantly cis-het male legislatures have refused to give these cases any consideration within their proposals. Oklahoma is approximately 47% native land, which is not under Oklahoma state jurisdiction. These tribal states are legally allowed to set up abortion clinics and not face Oklahoman scrutiny because of their special status and state sovereignty. But conservatives including Governor Kevin Stitt (R) indicated that they are willing to subvert their allegiance to the very argument of states’ rights and sovereignty to assert their control over people’s bodies. The only exceptions that conservatives are now willing to consider are those to their own philosophies like strong states’ rights, like in the case for indigenous reproductive rights. These help them further oppress people and control their bodies with people like Stitt, “warn[ing] Native American tribes not to create abortion safe havens”. It’s as if they are using state sovereignty to deny Americans their individual sovereignty.

With conservatives playing hardball on an issue that is more about control and less about life, it is time to demand stricter advocacy from neoliberals such as Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) on abortion beyond the exceptional cases. Quiet stances are useless when facing a vocal and brutish authoritarian front like the conservative one against abortion access. Loud objections to all pro-life must become the expectation from public servants like Rep. Peters. In a rally on May 3, Rep. Peters called the “efforts that states might make to ban abortion after rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake ‘nothing short of barbaric,’” a statement that is true and yet does not go far enough to criticize restrictions on reproductive rights. Asserting that abortions are murder is barbaric. Reverting to the pre-1970’s where America was far from being the epitome of freedom is barbaric. Any assault on reproductive access is barbaric.

This view goes beyond stances on abortion rights. Demanding firm stances from lawmakers should become the norm for Democratic-leaning activists and citizens at large. The neoliberal compromise mentality is not working, as can be seen in a 2014 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. In the survey, 64% of polled Democrats were seen to prefer compromising compared to only 49% of the Republicans surveyed. When 1/2 of a two-party system is unwilling to work with the other half, effective progressive lawmakers must abandon the non-compromising party, and push for the liberty of the constituents they represent. 

As someone who is from Texas and was previously represented by the pro-life Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), it is refreshing to see Rep. Peters do the bare minimum to help protect people’s right to choose. But Rep. Peters and others like him are far from being representatives that districts like the newly-drawn CA-50 should be proud advocating for. 

The abortion rights battle is not a lukewarm one. It is a matter of the rights to privacy, health and bodily autonomy. The tepid stances must be replaced with bold actions.

Art by Angela Liang for The UCSD Guardian.

One thought on “Lukewarm Stances and Lazy Politicians

  1. This is actual nonsense, clearly you didn’t even hear Rep. Peters entire speech that you have quoted a single sentence out of nor have you taken the time to research his position or just ask his office what it is. He has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood. Get a grip. Absolutely mindless child.

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