Newsweek's Kliff: House of Reps Has 'Anti-Abortion-Rights Majority'

"A strong Democratic majority in Congress does not mean a strong abortion-rights majority," Newsweek's Sarah Kliff lamented in a March 31 "Web exclusive," the subhead for which asks "[W]hy is there an anti-abortion-rights majority in the House?"

"That fact became painfully clear during the health-care-reform debate, when intraparty fissures over abortion threatened to derail the Democrats' legislation, arguably more so than any other issue," the Newsweek staffer continued, going on to paint the Democratic Party as more tolerant on dissent than Republicans when it comes to the stance of its politicians on abortion-related issues.

In fact, Kliff griped, it's the Democrats' fielding of pro-life candidates in conservative congressioanl districts that gums up its ability to "govern," she concluded, pointing to how pro-life concerns over federal subsidies for abortion impacted the ObamaCare legislative debate. Notice in the first line below how Kliff cribbed from pro-choice activists' language about abortion rights (emphasis mine):

Democrats clearly support a woman's right to choose in their party platform. But when it comes to candidates in swing states and more-conservative districts, the party often supports people who oppose abortion rights. It's a strategy that has helped Democrats take over Congress and amass a commanding majority in the last two elections. But the health-care debate shows the challenges it presents for them when trying to govern.

Concluding her article, Kliff hints that maybe, just maybe, Democrats need to make being pro-choice a "litmus test" for holding federal office:

When the crucial House health-care debate did turn to abortion, Democrats found themselves imperiled and without a strong pro-abortion-rights majority. And that leaves open a strategic question for this November: should abortion become more of a litmus test for the party in order to head off future intraparty breakdowns? It's doubtful that abortion will derail House Democrats' next agenda item, likely to be financial regulation or energy. Still, sociologist Munson suggests that the health-care struggles ought to give Democrats pause in considering their strategy on abortion going forward. "This last debate has taught the country a lot about whether there are advantages to the 'open tent' strategy," he says. "The strategy is to be maximally inclusive and thus produce votes. But if those votes don't translate into the ability to make good on policy positions, the advantage is not clear."

Of course, if pro-life Dems were really a factor in Congress, one would think they would have been able to get more than a puny executive order to show for it.

But forget that inconvenient final result.

It seems to Kliff that the fact that pro-life Democrats had such an impact in slowing down the ObamaCare train on abortion-related issues is evidence that the Democratic Party is not stridently left-wing enough, at least when it comes to "a woman's right to choose."

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters