Bill Clinton’s political genius in 1992 was his keen sense of effective rhetorical straddles that enabled him to appeal to moderate voters who were thoroughly turned off by the doctrinaire liberalism of the 1980s-era Democrats. His “Sister Souljah” moment is legendary, as well as his tough-on-crime rhetoric and pledge to “end welfare as we know it.” (Leave for some other day that he was mostly lying about all of these positions. . .)
But don’t forget his view that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” That language appeared in the Democratic platform beyond the Clinton years, and Hillary repeated it in her 2008 White House run. It was an acknowledgment that even many pro-choice Americans regard the “choice” of abortion to be morally ambiguous, if not a tragedy.
But by 2016, the term “rare” was dropped from the Democratic platform and Hillary changed her language and dropped the term “rare,” as the secular left has made abortion a sacrament, and believe abortion should be celebrated as a positive good, like that other “peculiar institution” at the core of the Democratic Party’s enduring legacy for America.
Vox admitted as much, in a 2019 story entitled “How the abortion debate moved away from ‘safe, legal, and rare.” Vox struggles mightily to avoid admitting that anyone once could have through that abortion was morally ambiguous, but they really can’t pull it off. To wit:
Over the years, Democrats have become more sympathetic to this view. By 2016, Hillary Clinton had changed her message, saying only that abortion should be “safe and legal.” It was part of a broader shift in the party toward more full-throated support of abortion rights. During the 2016 primaries, both Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders called for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions. . .
But over the years, abortion rights advocates have pushed back against the phrase. “Safe, legal, and rare” implies that getting an abortion is something that “you should be apologetic for,” reproductive justice activist Renee Bracey Sherman told Vox. “It places the blame on the person who’s had an abortion, as if they just did something wrong to need one, rather than addressing the systemic issue as to why someone might not be able to have access to consistent health care or contraception.”
Today, all the Democrats running for the 2020 presidential nomination say they support allowing federal money to pay for abortions. Even former Vice President Joe Biden, who earlier this year supported leaving Hyde in place, now calls for its repeal.
Then there’s the tidbit that Planned Parenthood ousted their president, Leana Wen, for being insufficiently celebratory of abortion as a positive good:
Former Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen [argued that] “we should reduce the need for abortions by investing in prevention.”
Wen broke with other abortion rights advocates some time ago. When she was removed as Planned Parenthood’s president in July, she said in a statement that, “I believe that the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one.” Some said the group ousted her because it was looking for “a more aggressive political leader” on abortion rights, while others said she had management issues.
Just try running as a Democrat and see what happens if you use Clinton’s phrase. It won’t be pro-lifers who come after you with pitchforks.