imageStupid ABC News. Smash ABC News!


The Democratic Party is engaged in a political high-wire act -- trying to bring in pro-life supporters without offending its pro-choice base.

This is a tight rope Democrats have been walking since 1992, when the party took a risky step by barring popular Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey Sr. from speaking at its convention because of his stance on the abortion issue.

It's really not even worth saying this again, because it never sinks in, but Casey was barred because he refused to endorse the Clinton/Gore ticket. There's also the small problem that one of the most powerful people in the Democratic Party is Harry Reid, a pro-lifer.

But none of this ever matters, because Democrats always need to moderate themselves on choice. Always.

During the 1992 convention Casey, along with over 30 other prominent figures in politics, commerce, academics and religion, endorsed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times which set forth their desire for "communities and policies that help women to deal with crisis pregnancies by eliminating the crisis, not the child."

Today that position still doesn't wash with dyed-in-the-wool pro-choice Democrats. But in a close election year, the party and its presumptive nominee, Barack Obama, are rethinking how they talk about the issue.

Actually, for the most part, that language would wash with most pro-choice Democrats. They would still want the woman to have the option of abortion, but the idea that we have to pursue policies that, from contraception to pregnancy planning to prenatal care to early childhood care and education, make pregnancy something society helps with rather than simply expects of women as a part of the deal of containing a womb. Oh, and the rainbow parties. God, the rainbow parties.

Alas, our party containing naught but slavering abortionists, we find ourselves again chasing after moderate white Catholics, the majority of whom actually still consider themselves pro-choice. Democrats have had a consistent message on choice and pregnancy for decades - that the best way to prevent abortion is to provide the tools to prevent pregnancy and to deal with the economic, psychological and medical impact of pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing to any woman who needs it.

There are really only three stories that the media can tell about Democrats and abortion - Bob Casey, the impending loss of white Catholics and the intemperate pro-choice base blocking the Democratic message that the pro-choice base is actually promoting. As much as I appreciate the Amy Sullivan Full Employment Act, maybe we could fill the interminably gaping maw of news coverage with something, anything else?