Why Is the Democratic Party Slapping Women in the Face? by Carol P. Christ

While the Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures across the country are working to repeal and restrict a woman’s right to control her own body, the Democratic Party has decided not to “insist” that the right to abortion is a basic human right.

During the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton was criticized for choosing a Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate even though as governor of Virginia, he had supported several anti-abortion bills. Last winter Bernie Sanders and his coalition were criticized for backing Heath Mello, a Democrat running for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, who co-sponsored the first statewide bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks and who voted for a bill to outlaw the “telemedicine” (speaking to a doctor via the internet) to monitor medication abortion when no local doctor will supervise it. Last week the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Ben Ray Luján, said the party would support anti-choice candidates. Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed with him that abortion should not be a litmus test.

And why not? Why should the Democratic Party have a “big tent” that includes those who deny a woman’s right to choose abortion? Do we have to keep reminding Democrats that a woman’s right to decide when and whether to have children is the baseline from which she will make every other decision in her life? Do we have to recite ad nauseum to the Democratic Party the ways in which the other party has made it more and more difficult for young women and poor women to get the abortions they want to have, leading to a rise in unplanned births?

Why does the Democratic Leadership not agree with Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood, that, “Women deserve access to safe, legal abortion no matter if their state is red or blue — it’s a constitutional right that can’t be traded away.” In fact, Democrats support a woman’s right to choose by a whopping 75% margin and there aren’t many anti-choice Democrats in Congress. So what is the big deal?

Some would say that those of us who are disappointed with the Democratic leadership are making a mountain out of a molehill. Wrong! The Democratic leadership is telling us that our rights are a molehill.

Why does the Democratic leadership continue to pander to the mythical white male voter (and his wife) who might return to the fold if only the Dems didn’t keep harping on the rights of everyone else?

Since the presidential election, I have read numerous articles attempting to explain that Trump voters are not really sexist or racist or homophobic or xenophobic. While the authors of these essays make important points about the loss of blue collar jobs which once enabled white men without a college education to support “their” families, they fail to address the deep roots of ideas about white male privilege and superiority that underlie white male anger.

Most of the authors I read conclude that Trump voters are not really racist. And even though many Trump voters hated Hillary Clinton with a vengeance, most of the authors do not even discuss the role played by sexism in the election. Nor do they consider the reasons white married women voted for Trump.

After the election I hoped that the Democratic Party might move in a progressive direction, which to me means underscoring its commitment to the rights of all of us who are not white male heads of households, while at the same time taking on the one percent and challenging the military industrial complex and the endless wars it creates. The real work does not involve pandering to the prejudices of white voters. The real work is to make it clear to everyone that we can work together to create a more just society that meets the needs of all of us.

The first protest against Donald Trump and the Republican Party that elected him, was the a-mazing Women’s March. The appropriate response to this is to harness the energy of all of those women (and the men who supported them) to run for office and to register the base–especially African American, younger, and unmarried women. Instead the Democratic Party slaps women in the face.

Reflecting on this situation, Katha Pollitt asks her readers to:

Imagine if Democrats, sick and tired of losing white votes in Mississippi, decided to nominate a segregationist for governor. Imagine if they found that LGBTQ rights turn off voters in Tennessee, so they ran one of those anti-same-sex-marriage Christian bakers. Imagine if they found that plenty of Oklahoma voters didn’t believe in climate change, so they ran a denialist. After all, why get hung up on one item in the long list of good things we all support when the important thing is getting back into power? Everyone has to take one for the team sometimes, right?

Don’t worry, Nation readers. These scenarios aren’t about to happen. Only women are expected to let history roll backwards over them. Only women’s rights to contraception and abortion are perpetually debatable, postponable, side-trackable.

Is the Democratic Party’s response to abortion a conscious or unconscious strategy to move women back to the margins? Is all of this hemming and hawing about abortion to be attributed to the fact that the core value of patriarchy is the control of female sexuality?

Tell the Democratic Party what you think!

* * *

 Carol’s photo by Michael Honegger

a-serpentine-path-amazon-coverGoddess and God in the World final cover design

Carol’s new book written with Judith Plaskow, is  Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology.

FAR Press recently released A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess.

Join Carol  on the life-transforming and mind-blowing Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete.
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Categories: Activism, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, General

Tags: , , , , , , ,

15 replies

  1. “Why should the Democratic Party have a “big tent” that includes those who deny a woman’s right to choose abortion? Do we have to keep reminding Democrats that a woman’s right to decide when and whether to have children is the baseline from which she will make every other decision in her life? Do we have to recite ad nauseum to the Democratic Party the ways in which the other party has made it more and more difficult for young women and poor women to get the abortions they want to have, leading to a rise in unplanned births?”

    Why, why why? I am in such a fury reading this essay that I can barely stay coherent…why is this BASIC female right to choose even on the table??? Why do we fear and hate women ( and yes, women DO hate other women) so much that we will do anything to control the choices they make?

    I re read this essay and feel more rage rising. What is it going to take to get women to stand up for themselves and other women on this most basic issue???


    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I fear the Dems are worried that they will become a female and minority dominant party unless they do “something” like alienate the women who vote for them!!! I mean really, why should our rights be negotiable, and why did HIllary and Pelosi go along with the guys who fear losing their power? Could it be that super-rich males will not donate to a female centered party? My rage is rising too. And we haven’t even gotten to the fact that the “Party” is not even 100% behind the 99% and the war industry is not even on the table. And they want our votes?????


  2. Carol thank you for this wonderful article! You really spoke the truth.I am so tired of womyns rights always being up for grabs!The democratic party is a joke!Always enjoy your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this powerful articulation of how the Democratic party continues to betray the people it purports to represent. Tweeting the link to my Democratic Senators right bow.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Unbelievable! Thank you for lighting the fire under our butts, Carol. I will be talking to Tammy Baldwin about this reprehensible move on the part of the Democratic Party.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, Carol. You’d better believe I’ll tell the Democratic party. In September, when my child care responsibilities will be largely finished, I’m going to volunteer for the prochoice woman incumbent of our district. She beat out an antichoice Rethug two years ago. She’s a progressive voice, one of the few, in our male-dominated Rethug Virginia legislature.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I called Tammy Baldwin, and the 3 Democratic congresspeople from Wisconsin, telling them to push back against this retrogressive policy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “The litmus test should be intelligence, caring about, as Harry Truman or Roosevelt used to call it, the common man,” [Jerry] Brown, a Democrat, told Todd.

    Looks like the common woman doesn’t count at all. Hey Jerry, one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. How much more common is that? Or when you say “common man” do you really mean common male human being?



  8. It’s time Democrats wake up to the fact their party abandoned them on economic issues decades ago – or we wouldn’t have this vast income disparity – maybe these social issues will encourage some discernment instead of group think. The “comfortable Democrats” who embraced liberalism and wear blinders about the damage caused need a reality check. I used to defend them passionately – now I feel foolish for having done that. They’ve been going Right economically and now socially for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. SO tired of having to keep working to defend women’s rights!! The only answer (short term, anyway) is for more feminist women to run for office. I’m not sure what the long term answer is to demolish patriarchy, but I’m also not sure we have a “long term,” considering global warming.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Carol, thank you for this. My husband and I just heard a talk by Dr. Willie Parker, who was in Honolulu for a book-signing. His book “Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice” should be a must read for all “Christians” professing to be pro-life–except too often they are pro the unborn, not the living, breathing women who alone bear the consequences of sexual behavior which men often walk away from–if they acknowledge it. We criticize the Ayatollahs but our so-called Christian lawmakers have no trouble trying to manage women’s wombs. I was moved to publish an OpEd on Civil Beat about Parker’s truly Christian view of abortion after listening to him and reading his book, and blogged about it. https://dawnmorais.com/2017/08/04/dr-parker-the-christian-case-for-reproductive-justice/
    Thanks again, Carol. aloha, Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr. Willie Parker is a great man. Great blog too. His story reminds us that with all the restrictions and all the murders, threats, and violence, we are in a situation where the majority of doctors are afraid to perform abortions for fear for their lives and the lives of their families.


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