Our most prominent self-professed pro-choice Republican is Bob Dold, 1st term tool for Boehner, Canter and the rest of the Tea Party ridden majority in Congress. Mr. Dold wants to be reelected and has officially declared himself pro-choice. He is a Republican, so, of course, that is a lie.
NARAL, the Abortion Rights Action League, only scores Mr. Dold 30 of 100 and classifies him as mixed choice, which means that he "Agrees with NARAL Pro-Choice America on some, but not all, issues related to a woman's right to choose." But, as Elizabeth Warren keeps reminding voters about her faux-progressive, faux-choice opponent, what counts is how he votes.
Fortunately, records are kept of these things. Mr. Dold has voted for such odious anti-women laws as one that Congressman Henry Waxman described as a bill to "allow hospitals to refuse to provide a woman emergency, life-saving abortion care, even if she could die without it." Republicans, of course, called it The Protect Life Act. Mr. Dold was a reliable Republican vote on most of the GOP's anti-woman agenda in the 112th Congress.
Why are these Republicans are just trying to pass as pro-choice? Since we are talking about government regulation of abortion and contraception, the answer, as you would expect, is religion.
At 7% of the county population, Jews make up a sizable bloc of people who vote reliably. A complete breakdown of distribution of the population of the county among all of the county's religious congregations is here.
Here is how one recent report broke down the influence of women's healthcare issues on Jewish voters:
According to the 2005 “Jewish distinctiveness,” study, Jews are the most pro-choice ethnic or religious group in America, by far. Almost 80 percent of American Jews think it’s fine for a woman to have an abortion for any reason, which is close to twice the percentage for Americans as a whole. Jews are also the religious and ethnic group most supportive of giving birth control to teenagers and most hostile to school prayer. And this cultural liberalism produces deep hostility to the Christian right.
But the blockbuster number in the county religious survey was that Roman Catholics make up at over 66% of the population. Less than 25% of the population is Protestant, split about evenly between mainline denominations and evangelicals. The most interesting tidbit that I found in the data was that Muslims out number Mormons in the county.
At first blush, a population that is 66% Roman Catholic doesn't seem like a good justification to stake out a pro-choice position. Their Bishops are on the wrong side of history on all of the reproductive healthcare issues important to women. However, there are a lot more Catholic voters than there are Catholic Bishops. The organization, Catholics for Choice, polled Catholic voters this month, and suddenly the existence of the faux-choice Republicans becomes clearer.
“A poll released yesterday showed what Catholics are concerned about:
‘A strong majority of Catholic voters (79 percent) wants the next president to make jobs his highest priority. Only 28 percent of Catholic voters believe abortion should be the highest priority of the next administration. Gay marriage is even less of a priority than abortion among Catholics, with only 16 percent prioritizing the issue as the most important.
‘In addition, majorities of Catholics disagree with criminalizing abortion and do not want priests to withhold communion from those Catholics who support legal abortion. Those who strongly agree that abortion should be legal outnumber those who strongly disagree by a 2:1 margin.’
If two thirds of the Roman Catholics and all the Jews are pro-choice voters, and only 12% of voters are made up of evangelicals, the Republicans have to break out the camo and try to blend in, notwithstanding any seeming dissonance with party orthodoxy.
Pro-choice Republicans make no more sense to me than Log Cabin Republicans, though the pro-choice Republicans seem rather more opportunistic.
Everyone has a friend or relative who has opined that voting for the person or the issue is what should matter, and never for party. There always remain many who will declaim that our two major parties are just alike. Pro-choice Republicans in my Illinois county need Democrats to vote for them to get elected, so they try to tack left on choice. But no matter what they may profess about women's health issues, contraception and abortion, their party constrains them, radically.
No matter the issue. No matter the person. Party is still important.
If you live in the Illinois 10th Congressional District, please vote for Democrat, Brad Schneider. He's really not that bad over all and is a true friend of women on these issues.
Comments are closed on this story.