During this week’s Colorado senatorial debate, Mark Udall was asked a simple question by the Denver Post’s Chuck Plunkett: With all our technological advances and society’s greater understanding of fetal development do you still support late-term abortions on demand? Udall replied: “To demand that that woman carry that child to term would be a form of government intervention that none of us want to see happen. We ought to respect the women of Colorado and their point of view.”
Let me translate this bit of craven polispeak: ‘I support the right to an abortion in all trimesters of pregnancy for any reason–and this includes sex-selection or anything else you got.’
One suspects that “Mark Uterus” didn’t expect this question – probably because the few reporters who do bother to quiz pro-choice candidates rarely couch their questions as a matter of morality and science. But after months of focusing everyone’s attention on fictional gender wars, Udall treated a genuine policy question regarding abortion as if it were a distraction – and then he rather absurdly acted as if he was driven by a profound concern about too much “government intervention.”
Remember, this concerned noninterventionist voted to forbid women from shopping for health care plans outside their state and impelled them to drop plans that failed to meet the collective standards imposed through thousands of pages of regulations. But let’s go with it.
The answer to a late-term abortion query typically entails much earnest lecturing about women’s health. But for Udall, if a woman’s “point of view” says eradicating viable babies is copacetic, then we are not only instructed to stay out of it but to “respect” the decision. (I guess voters should be thankful for his directness. Nancy Pelosi, who, when asked to explain her support for third-trimester abortions, offered that as “a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this” and “I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics.”)
Udall hitched his entire campaign to abortion. So let’s juxtapose positions, for a moment. Republican Cory Gardner has been called to answer for his one-time support of a state-wide Personhood Amendment. And he should be. Basically, Personhood initiatives mean imbuing everyone with the same legal rights at the moment our biological development begins. Some of these initiatives would also ban certain abortifacient (or maybe not) drugs. At this point, anyone paying attention to the Colorado Senate race understands exactly what the initiative entails. It’s been covered from every comprehendible angle and has been focus of nearly every piece about Gardner. Personhood is shorthand for the extremist proclivities of social conservatives. And I’m not sure the word “Personhood” can even exist in a news story without the adjective “controversial” attached.
But you know what’s less popular than Personhood? Third-trimester abortions. Maybe things will change, but this fact does not seem to have captured the imagination of the media. Even though, according to most polls, we find the idea of late-term abortions controversial, contentious, troublesome, and so on.
In a recent Gallup poll, 80 percent of Americans believe abortions in the third trimester should be illegal. In a Huffington Post-funded poll, respondents favored a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks by a margin of 59 to 30 percent. In Quinnipiac University Poll, 55 percent supported a ban restricting abortions on viable unborn children – with women, whose views we should respect, supporting the ban by a 60-25 margin.
Polls change, of course. But at this point, those are larger margins than you’re going to find on nearly any issue we’re debating. Udall doesn’t seem to believe there should be a single limitation on abortion. So, as they did with Gardner, you would imagine a responsible media might do all it could to find out more about this “controversial” position. For consistency’s sake, right?