February 19, 2003

EXPANDED VIEW (via Kevin Whited):

Kucinich opens campaign with change on abortion (Tom Diemer, 02/17/03, Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Cedar Rapids, Iowa- U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich opened a long-shot bid for the White House yesterday by altering one of his long-standing positions, promising Iowa Democrats he would be "pro-choice" on the question of abortion.

Kucinich, starting his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in a state that will host the first major contest of the 2004 presidential race,
said in answer to a question that "as president, I would protect that right [to abortion], and I would also make sure that appointees to the Supreme
Court protected that right."

In Congress, Kucinich, who represents Cleveland's West Side and western suburbs, has generally voted against abortion rights and has consistently opposed federal funding of abortion for poor women, a record he acknowledged at a later stop in Iowa City.

He was met in that college town by three women holding abortion-rights placards.

"He has a very poor record with Planned Parenthood," said Gina Shatteman, holding a sign that read "No Forced Motherhood."

Outside the small caucus meetings in the two cities, Kucinich conceded that he had expanded his view on abortion. He said he had grown "increasingly uncomfortable" with debates in Congress that focused narrowly on that issue while ignoring the needs of poor families.

This was inevitable, but even cynics like us have to be startled by the rapidity with which Mr. Kucinich just sold his soul to the Democrats' abortion lobby. one might parse his campaign this way, he's willing to kill American babies in order to stop George W. Bush from killing an evil dictator. So here's the question if you're a voter: if he'd reverse his core beliefs on the most important moral question of our time just to get elected, what wouldn't he do? Who wouldn't he kill? Posted by Orrin Judd at February 19, 2003 12:41 PM

It's strange. It's easy to accept that as people leave their youth, they often abandon positions that they now see as immoral (I certainly did on abortion and am now very pro-life, but I saw this the same way when I was pro-abort), but when they do something like this in late life, it just smacks of policital expediency, jettisoning what they before held to be moral. Weird. I never once thought my abortion rights position was moral, just thought it was a necessary evil.

Posted by: Patty at February 19, 2003 1:19 PM

With due respect to Patty, and to OJ, this is neither strange nor shocking. He's been angling at a bigger stage for a while; when he received a formal reprimand from The Nation, you could practically hear his feet stomping in reverse as fast as they'd go.

I'm not the Pope, but I'm coming to the inevitable conclusion that one cannot be a Democrat and a Catholic (a Christian?) at the same time. One is forced to choose between the positions of the two; inevitably, in any bid for political office, one must choose the former over the latter.

Kucinich is a disgrace. He's also, incidentally, excommunicate. We'll see how he deals with that.

Posted by: Christopher Badeaux at February 19, 2003 2:14 PM

Is it possible to use the term "pro-choice" instead of "pro-abortion?" The former is accurate, the latter polemical.


Jeff Guinn

Posted by: at February 19, 2003 4:13 PM

The media and the left refer to pro-lifers as being "anti-abortion." Where does that logically place those with diametrically opposed views?

Posted by: JW at February 19, 2003 4:28 PM

Geez, Jeff, that's a tad precious. Isn't it a little late in the day--40 million abortions later--to get squeamish about what you're allowing?

Posted by: oj at February 19, 2003 6:54 PM

Mr. Judd;

As part of his switch to "pro-choice", Rep. Kucinich has also sponsored a bill to outlaw orbital mind control lasers

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at February 19, 2003 7:26 PM

If "he'd reverse his core beliefs on the most important moral question of our time", he must be a democrat.

But you're just trying to deflect attention from what to me is the most pressing issue of our time, which is, of course Orbital Mind Control Lasers.

But that's just me.

Posted by: Richard at February 19, 2003 8:20 PM

Orbital Mind Control Lasers? If we had them wouldn';t we use them on people like him?

Posted by: oj at February 19, 2003 8:28 PM


No, it isn't a tad precious. The matter under discussion is abortion. The positions regarding abortion are anti-choice or pro-choice.

Of course, except for extremists (the anti-choicers being rather more offputting to my mind--imagine someone saying "Boy, I am going to put on one heck of a protest until you make up your own mind!") the positions real life people have on the issue is not nearly so polar as that.

But still, the conflicting positions are the degree of choice women should have. Framing the argument any other way is simply incorrect.


Jeff Guinn

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at February 19, 2003 10:33 PM


So people aren't pro and anti war, they're pro-choice; not pro or anti death penalty, but pro-choice; not pro or anti pederasty, but pro-choice? If you're too uncomfortable with the moral choice you've made to say what it really is perhaps you should re-examine it?

Posted by: oj at February 19, 2003 11:29 PM

Jeff, you are wrong. Framing the debate as "-choice" ignores the concerns of one of the parties involved, the little human being who desires to live.

Sorry, you cannot simplify this issue thusly with a mere change of terminology.

Abortion is an abdication of reponsibility and accountability for one's actions, and results in the ending of a life for various reasons of convenience, in the vast majority of cases.

Posted by: abi babi at February 20, 2003 12:39 AM

I love it. Here we have the burning moral issue of our time and Jeff is upset not about the substantive outcome (the lives of fetuses). He is, instead, offended about how people "frame" the issue and -- if I may borrow from Chomsky -- wishes to impose an artificial linguistic construct that soothes him.

Precious, indeed.

Posted by: EO at February 20, 2003 2:02 AM

Wasn't he the mayor, whose city's river burned, like Gledi Prime in Dune

Posted by: narciso at February 20, 2003 10:58 AM

Ok. Here is why I am concerned with mischaracterizing the debate:

If rape impregnates a woman, must she carry the fetus to term? There is an unavoidable choice there. On one side, the choice is to perpetrate the original act, in which the woman had no choice. On the other side, the choice is the woman's.

What if tests show the fetus will be born profoundly handicapped. Must the woman carry the fetus to term? If yes, then the choice is to impose a human existence upon the parents they might find morally repugnant. If no, then the choice is the parents'.

I could continue in this vein, but it does boil down to a choice, and who gets to make it.

Posters here clearly believe the fetus to be a separate entity with rights identical to the mother's.

Others believe that until the fetus is born, it is not an individual, therefore, the mother's perogatives predominate.

The difference between those two positions is that one wishes to cram its beliefs down the others throat, while the other doesn't. (Of course, I don't believe the fetus qualifies as an 'other')

If I were a woman, my response to the anti-choice crowd would be "Who the heck made you God of me?"



Posted by: at February 20, 2003 12:26 PM

Jef, Jeff, Jeff,

First, you try to use two scenarios that are NOT in play in the vast majority of cases, rape and birth defects. Even in those cases, abortion is a matter of ending a life for convenience. In the rest of the cases, it is additionally to escape responsibility and accountability for one's (or two's) actions.

The debate thus has consisted of a series of "Trojan horse" (no pun intended...) arguments. Your new point,viability of the fetus, is simply absurd. We've all seen the pictures of the little fetus. New evidence indicates that they experience many sensations of life. It's possible, and possibly horrible, that a human being will someday be created completely outside the womb.

If you demand the right to make the choice, so be it. In practice, I am forced to pay, and therefore participate, for people to enable them to make that choice through taxation and federal funding programs. THAT makes me "the God of you."

The rest of us have had a horror imposed on us, and not even by vote but through judicial activitism, by a vocal minority.

Posted by: abi babi at February 20, 2003 1:38 PM

There is a reason I started with those two hypotheticals.

Very few people--and even fewer women--would advocate forcing women to endure the pregnancy consequences of a rape.

Similarly for known gross deformities.

So, except for the absolutists, there is at least some
space for choice. Who decides where the line between choice and no choice belongs? On what basis? Since this is an issue largely driven by religious belief, how can the anti-choice proponents enforce their position while preserving the ability for, say, me, to freely practice my religious beliefs in this regard?

My wife was in her late thirties when we had our first. After discussion, we decided a Down's diagnosis would be cause for abortion. That certainly is not the choice a fully paid up Catholic, for example, would make. But we aren't, and can see utterly no reason to have a belief we don't share shoved down our throats.



Posted by: at February 20, 2003 5:03 PM

Wow! Kucinich!

I was all set to go vote for Sharpton in the New Hampshire primaries, but now I'm not so sure.

Which one is more embarrassing?

Posted by: ralph phelan at February 20, 2003 5:41 PM


The most awesome power human beings weild is the right to take life. We've always considered it too dangerous a poower to leave to individuals and we've instead let the polity decide. Thus we've decided that war and capital punishment represent just causes for taking life and we would likely decide that in the case of rape, incest or profound/terminal deformity that abortion would be allowed. But it would be the taking of a life and would be considered an extraordinary circumstance. no one doubts that convicts and enemy combatants have some rights, but we kill them anyway. We can recognize that babies have rights and still draw coherent lines at which killing them is permissible.

The alternative you advocate is to leave it entirely up to women only to determine the rights of the child until the moment it is born--or later in the case of partial-birth abortion--and to kill it for any reason whatsoever.

Posted by: oj at February 21, 2003 10:00 AM


That is precisely what I advocate. Because birth is a clearly definable demarcation (partial birth notwithstanding--but I doubt there are many of those in the absence of extremely
extenuating circumstances).

Prior to birth, I don't believe the fetus exists as an individual--hence mom's decisions always take precedence.

Clearly, you don't agree, nor do I care to get you to agree. Rather, the fundamental outlook is intensely personal.

Which is where the choice/anti-choice distinction is important. In a pro-choice world, you are free to make your decisions as you see fit. In an anti-choice world, I get your decisions rammed down my throat.



Posted by: at February 21, 2003 12:16 PM