Political Animal


April 25, 2013 9:25 AM So Glad “Social Issues” Are Dead

By Ed Kilgore

Gee, aren’t you glad we’ve all decided that “social issues” are dead in today’s politics, what with the Christian Right having been replaced by the Tea Party and then subsequently the Tea Party by Great Big Adults interested only in “entitlement reform?” Here’s another scene from this more rational environment, as reported by theGrio’s Alexis Garrett Stodghill :

A group of black female lawmakers walked out of a fiery debate in the Florida House on Thursday over the state’s latest bill focusing on abortion. House Bill 845, which passed the Florida House of Representatives by a margin of 71-44 that day, stipulates that a doctor performing an abortion must sign an affidavit confirming it was not performed based on the race or gender of the fetus.
The third abortion-related bill to pass in the Florida House within days, HB 845 would make it a third-degree felony to perform race- or gender-based abortions, and make not reporting such abortions punishable by a $10,000 fine.

You know this stunt by now: antichoicers identify some terrible-sounding motive for having an abortion that hardly anyone actually has, and then legislate against it, hoping to undermine the general principle of letting women decide whether to terminate a pregnancy, while treating them as helpless wards of the state who need protection against the predators of Planned Parenthood. But these dudes in Florida took it a step too far:

Rep. Charles Van Zant (R-Keystone Heights), the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a speech on Thursday that African-Americans are targeted by pro-abortion organizations with harmful intent.
“In America alone, without the Nazi holocaust, without the Ku Klux clan, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists have reduced our black population by more than 25 percent since 1973. This is called discriminatory targeting,” Van Zant said, according to a report by the Tampa Bay Times.
Van Zant also claimed that “race and sex selection abortion is prevalent throughout America, including Florida,” without specifying his sources.
He also charged that, “80 percent of abortion clinics nationwide are located in minority neighborhoods where 43 percent of all black babies are aborted.”
As many as five black female representatives among a group of African-American lawmakers walked out in response to Van Zant’s statements.
Rebecca Wind, senior communications associate of the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research group, refuted his statistics on the locations of clinics where abortions are performed.
“In fact, fewer than one in 10 abortion clinics are located in predominantly African-American neighborhoods,” Wind wrote in an email to theGrio, referencing a 2011 study by her organization. “More than six out of ten are in majority-white neighborhoods.”

Ah, but you see, the numbers don’t really matter: this is all about engaging people in an argument in which every abortion must be justified in public to conservative white men who pose as defenders of “babies” against the poor, stupid and/or morally impaired women carrying them. Particularly when the argument involves minority women, the stench of paternalism and hypocrisy is just overpowering. But this sort of battle is going on in state legislatures all over the country, every day.

Occasionally you will hear pro-choice folk (notably George Washington University’s Jeffrey Rosen, someone I actually debated on this subject a while back) claim that the reversal of Roe v. Wade might in the long run be good for the cause of abortion rights, which would be forced to become a popular cause fighting for power in the political marketplace. In fact, the last two years, after the 2010 elections put movement-conservative Republicans in charge of an unusually large number of state legislatures, provide a pretty good glimpse into the actual post-Roe reality: abortion would dominate politics at every level virtually 24-7. And yes, it’s entirely probable that the GOP’s “outreach” to African-Americans would become heavily centered on the kind of “defense of black babies from abortion” rhetoric we are hearing in Florida and many other states.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Rich on April 25, 2013 9:44 AM:

    Where is the activism from NARAL, et al. Guttmacher is a research org. Advocates should be doing more than sending out fundraising letters. These tactics are nothing new.

  • martin on April 25, 2013 9:49 AM:

    the reversal of Roe v. Wade might in the long run be good for the cause of abortion rights, which would be forced to become a popular cause fighting for power in the political marketplace

    Just as elimination of the Voting Rights Act would bring back the glory days of the Civil Rights Movement and all the fun they had with dogs and beatings and fire hoses and assassinations. Good Times.

  • c u n d gulag on April 25, 2013 9:59 AM:

    American Conservative POV:
    For pointing this out, you, Ed, have proven that YOU are the real racist!!!

    We Conservatives are the true inheritors of the Civil Rights movement, and shepherds of Black people!

    After all, all Martin Luther King Jr cared about, was whether Black people could vote.

    And if they're not born, HOW can they vote?

    That alone proves that Martin Luther King Jr wasn't a black-head pimple on our proud, caring, white asses.

    This follows our centuries long, proud, tradition of caring for Black people in America!

    You think you Liberals helped them out over the years, with programs like your Welfare, and Housing Subsidies, and Food Stamps?

    For Centuries, we not only housed and fed our Blacks, and looked after their welfare - since they were worth some money - we actually even paid to bring them over!

    So, Liberals, who are the people who've really looked out for the Civil Rights of Black people?
    We Conservatives!
    We rest our case.

    Now, if they would only learn to stop breeding like rabbits, we could eliminate abortions in this country completely!!!
    Ok, them HIGHspanics, too!

  • Renai on April 25, 2013 10:06 AM:

    And in other news, former President George W Bush tells @todayshow that 'removing Saddam Hussein was the right decision and the world is better off without him in power'

    Just wanted to say, "you too, George."

  • Peter C on April 25, 2013 10:28 AM:

    Part of the genius and strength of a Representative Democracy is that, ideally, we have a mix of different perspectives provided by having a mix of people with different backgrounds. HOWEVER, this only works when representatives LISTEN to those who come from the background in question. That means listening to the representatives who are black women from the inner city when dealing with matters concerning the lives of black women in the inner city.

    We need to stop electing old white men who think the purity of their ideology gives them the right to shout down anything which seems to run contrary to their fixed beliefs. People who listen only in order to hear the next chance to break in and reiterate their talking points make for bad legislators. Listening should be used to learn and understand; those who want to gain office only to speak should be avoided.

  • Chr Roettger on April 25, 2013 11:06 AM:

    c u n d gulag @ 9.59

    :-)) you are always good, but this is one of your best posts all season! I think irony works so much better than rants - and you probably would scoop up some cheers if you posted this on Redstate.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on April 25, 2013 12:12 PM:

    gulag: For Centuries, we not only housed and fed our Blacks, and looked after their welfare - since they were worth some money - we actually even paid to bring them over!

    TOO funny!!!!

    On another point, I don't know if the GoOPers realize this or not, but many Blacks (especially in the South) lean conservative on abortion. They're not necessarily gung ho about making it illegal, as far as I can tell, but they certainly do frown upon it in the more religious circles.

    So, if the GOP was trying to do a bit of "outreach" to the black community with this stunt, it's looking more like tone-deaf overreach in a way that only white GOP old crows can orchestrate. Sheesh!!!!

    Besides, race-based abortions probably rank really, really low on the list of "Shit The Man Does to Annihilate Black Folks". Considerably lower than the drug war, mass incarcerations, mass unemployment, voter suppression, piss poor health care and crappy underfunded public education. How's about addressing those issues, GOOPERS!!!

  • boatboy_srq on April 25, 2013 2:31 PM:

    @Sgt Gym Bunny:

    Too right, on all counts. Just don't forget that it's Teahad Orthodoxy that all those Other people (and don't forget that Caucasian women fall into that set as well) should be kept as disempowered, disenfranchised, uneductated and subservient as possible,so the Teahadist moolah (known to the rest of us as Old White Men with Money) can do What's Best For A Better Ahmurrca™.

    I for one think it's hysterical that, in the (hopefully) last gasps of Entitled Caucasian Patriarchy, some of them are actually getting antsy that adhering to the Teahad might have unfortunate optics, and trying to do something (however laughable) to change the appearance of what's going on to make it less unpalatable.

  • Dredd on April 25, 2013 4:49 PM:

    Yeah, like the common good ... not so common any more.

    There need be nothing more than full attention to social issues ("the common good") to make the nation sane once again.