The Abortion Conundrum in Blue State America

This is my first diary posting after reading redstate.com for a while. I decided to create my own posting almost as a form of therapy. You see I am a conservative who was born in New York City, went to the most elitist liberal public schools, attended state universities, worked mostly with liberal non-profits (I was even a community organizer!!) and now live in New Jersey

I would like to use this post to explore the impact of conservative views on Blue State America. It is easy to look at most Blue Staters as liberals just as it is easy to look at most Red Staters as conservatives. The reality is far more complex and interesting.

The first issue I wanted to discuss is probabaly the most difficult and in this election cycle, the most irrelevent. It is abortion. This issue had some promise to become a real issue in the presidential elections, but recent polling has dashed my hopes. Barak Obama is losing evangelical voters by even bigger margins than John Kerry. While that is good news to me in some ways it is bittersweet. Obama’s attempts to reach out to evangelicals gave some amazing insights into how Blue Staters look at abortion. That is, with extreme discomfort.

Even though I am a values conservative like most Red Staters, I came upon my own views towards abortion in an extremely Blue State way. That is though science instead of religion. After I graduated from college I was morphing into the Red Stater that Red Staters have a love/hate relationship with, the economic conservative/liberal values guy. My views began changing when I visited a friend in medical school after he talked to me about women with premature babies, as well as women who sought late term abortions. I quickly came to see that babies began taking on a viable form earlier in life than most scientists realized until recently. My views evolved over the years to a strong view against late term abortions and then most abortions. Of course my views have evolved there is still stome Blue State left in me. I feel strongly about contraceptive education and support the morning after pill.

The interesting thing is most of my Blue State neighbors and friends believe as I do though they have a strong fear of saying anything about it. These Blue Staters fall into three camps: The coat hanger threatened, the freedom of privacy crowd, and the thinning the herd crowd.

The coat hanger threatened are mainly older women who remember when abortion as still illegal in most states. This group fears that any ban on most abortions will result in women fearing for their lives as they seek hatchet operations.

The freedom of privacy crowd believe that abortion is wrong and evil,but that freedom over your own body trumps that. Bill Clinton is the patron saint of this group.

The thinning the herd crowd unfortunately exists mainly among the economic conservative/values liberal crowd. Their view is that abortion is wrong and evil, but it is mostly done by the the poor, the black, or the young and is doing society as a whole a favor.

Which brings us back to Obama. Obama most of his life has been a true blue Blue Stater with extreme sympathies for the life of the mother. In fact it is true that Obama supported a bill that came close to excusing infanticide in some situations. It is hard to see what constituency was benefiting from that.

In my eyes Obama is the perfect political bellweather. As the most political creature of the 20th century, passing even Bill Clinton, Obama’s nuances provide a good picture of the Blue Stater struggle with abortion. Obama recently said he would like to see a ban on all late term abortions except when the life of the mother is at stake, and that mental distress was not an excuse.

Obama’s comments were of course rejected by NARAL North America, the most extreme abortion rights group, and rejected by evangelicals, who have moved on from late term abortion years ago, but it was warmly received in most of Blue State America. It gave cover to the largest Blue Group, the freedom of privacy crowd, who clearly are looking for some liberal insight on the balance between the right of privacy and the right of life. This of course may be the last time you hear from Obama on this though. Since the evangelicals are not buying it, there is no reason to agitate the ultra-liberals any further.

My experience and the observations on Obama does show that Blue Staters can be turned on at least the worst areas of abortion. It is important though to use the Blue State language of science, logic and balance. The first priority though should probabaly not be overturning Roe vs Wade. That will cause not only a huge backlash, but also mean nothing in the Blue States, which will be able to define the abortion terms on their own.

Better to appeal to reason. I worked with Obama. I can work with many more people.