The pathetic pandering of various Democratic Party leaders, like Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton, to the anti-abortion fanatics represents the nadir of principle and integrity of a party that keeps demonstrating why it deserves to die.


I have nothing against a guy like Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful Bob Casey, a Catholic, saying he is opposed to abortion. That alone should not disqualify him or anyone from being a Democrat or even a progressive. But he needs to go beyond that to explain how a sincere belief on his part will impact on his job as a legislator. Because anyone who would act to restrict a woman's access to a safe, legal abortion must concede that the result of such restriction will be a massive surge in unsafe, illegal, and even self-induced abortions. That is, the rates of abortions in societies where abortions are legal and in societies where they are illegal are almost identical, but in one case women live and in the other they die or are maimed for life.


The same can be said for such outrages as parental notification laws. It may sound logical to say that a minor girl should have to tell a parent before undergoing a medical procedure as risky as an abortion, but the reality is that many teenagers would rather die (and well might) before admitting to their parents that they had messed up and gotten pregnant. As well, all too many pregnant girls are victims of rape or even of incest, and are afraid to go to a parent who may even be the perpetrator or the spouse of the perpetrator, for permission. Parental notification laws won't stop abortions--they'll just drive girls to risk death getting them illegally.


That's what makes the new "anti-abortion-friendly" positions of weasels like Dean and Clinton so obscene. They know all this stuff, but don't have the courage to state the obvious and take a stand. It's also what makes Democratic candidates like Casey so flawed.


Any self-proclaimed progressive or Democrat who opposes abortion must begin by acknowledging that abortions are going to occur no matter what the law is, and by conceding that the only legitimate way to reduce abortions is to make sex education and contraception wide-spread and easily accessible to all, including juveniles. Beyond that, such people must be committed to a continued protection not only of the absolute legal right to abortion, but also to the state's willingness to pay for the procedure just as for any other needed medical procedure for those who cannot afford it.


The bottom line is that to ban or even to restrict abortions, or public funding for abortions is simply to condemn some women to death and injury.


It's all about pandering to the religious right, not about the so-called "sanctity of life."


That kind of hypocrisy should be left to the Republicans and the fundamentalists.


For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .