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May 24, 2005

NARAL coda

What Scott Lemieux said about NARAL.

Obviously, NARAL's endorsement of Lincoln Chafee's senatorial bid is short-sighted on NARAL's own terms. The best way to advance reproductive rights is to help the Democrats take back the Senate. It's unreasonable to expect NARAL to endorse pro-life Democrats--but there's absolutely no need for them to endorse pro-choice Republicans like Chafee.

In a contest between a pro-life Democrat and a pro-choice Republican, NARAL should have witheld its endorsement and made a big show of redirecting resources towards more accomodating Democrats.

Now that NARAL has endorsed Chafee, the Democrats have no further incentive to run a pro-choice candidate.


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The problem with both political parties is that they vote as a block and not with their consciences. In the recent Nuclear option debate there was a small army of lobbyist contacting Senators and warning them that they would receive no further financial support, the President pulled the base closings to act as a club, and key Senators were target with the loss of their chairmanships and committee memberships if they opposed it.

In an "off the record poll" 65 Senators opposed it and as one author observed... if the vote was anonomous it would never have passed.

my question is: do they have to endorse someone in every single race?

NARAL probably would want to endorse pro-choice republicans to demonstrate their political independence. and there is something to say for that. NARAL should stand for abortion rights, not as an extension of the democratic party. but if both candidates are equally good on abortion issues, why can't NARAL just not endorse either? it seems like the logical thing to do under the circumstances. it preserves their independence and avoids screwing over a pro-choice politician

My understanding is that the Democrat in the race is pro-choice, actually.

Some Dems are pissed because NARAL didn't endorse Jim Langevin, who is anti-choice, in the primaries. This, to me, seems totally unreasonable.

Is NARAL an acronym? If so what words do the letters represent?

The best way to advance reproductive rights is to help the Democrats take back the Senate.

The best way to protect existing reproductive rights in the very short term is to control the Senate. The best way to promote reproductive and other women's and sexual rights is to do organizing and public education around the issue and others (i.e. movement building). Electoral politics is not where most change happens; it's where it gets manifested.


NARAL was originally an acronym for the National Alliance to Repeal Abortion Laws. After Roe v Wade, they changed to the National Abortion Rights Action League. Now, NARAL isn't an acronym for anything--it's just NARAL. The mission is pretty much the same, though.

NARAL has consistently supported pro-choice Republicans. The idea is that abortion rights opponents are often single-issue voters, so the best strategy to counter them is through a single-issue organization.

The weakness of this approach was underscored in the case of Bob Packwood. The national organization ignored the pleas of their Oregon chapter to withdraw support for Packwood, and wasted a lot of resources on a thoroughly discredited politician famous for violating women.

I agree with the idea that NARAL should give up on the GOP completely until its pro-choice senators and congressmen start to stand up to the party leadership. Specter's stance against abortion legislation will ring pretty hollow if Roe v Wade is overturned. Let's keep in mind the fact that Harry Reid, a pro-life Democrat, did more in the past month to protect abortion rights than Specter's done in his entire career.

Now that NARAL has endorsed Chafee, the Democrats have no further incentive to run a pro-choice candidate.

On the contrary, by endorsing a pro-choice Republican, NARAL achieves a double purpose: first, helping pro-choice Republicans, which encourages the Republicans to run pro-choice candidates, and second, hurting anti-choice Democrats, which discourages the Democrats from running anti-choice candidates.

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