Creating Real "Choice" as a Coalition tactic (Re: ANSWER: Name this socialist

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Tue Aug 17 05:26:43 PDT 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> Rakesh Bhandari
> Um. Nathan, I am not sure what you are driving at here. That some women
> would carry to term if their life conditions were different seems
> no reason not to ensure full access to abortion in case they do not want
to birth a
> child: free access does not coerce abortion; poverty might but then the
> solution is abolition of poverty, not restrictions on reproductive freedom
> (plus poverty seems correlated with higher birth rates). Your implication
> here is insidious: that poor women cannot be trusted to exercise their
> choice 'wisely' if they are allowed a real choice;

I think you missed the point of my post, since the argument was that "free access" to one choice (abortion) but not the other choice (funding to take care of a child) is hardly "free access" to a choice, but merely an (improved) resolution of a bad situation.

My point was that most ideas about engaging in compromise with anti-abortion allies in a coalition assumes further restricting freedom to access abortion. I was arguing that by taking the values of the anti-abortion progressives seriously, as reasonable a compromise is one that instead emphasizes expanding choice on the having the child side of the ledger (without compromising on choice on the abortion side). That hardly seems like distrust of poor women making a correct choice.

Just to restate the policy I was suggesting:

"Without conceding anything on the policy of right to abortion and its funding to assure that choice, a broader coalition on the left could more strongly emphasize the positive policy changes needed to support women who choose to have a child. This would not only engage such anti-abortion activists in coalition, but frankly create a better policy that integrates other economic concerns into maternity choices."

Yes, abolishing poverty helps women on choice, but is hardly enough given "mommy tracks" and all sorts of other forms of discrimination against women choosing to have a child. Much more radical remaking of the workplace, community structures and the economic system are required to assure truly free choice.

These issues are not at odds with other progressive goals, but actually reinforce them. Which was my point in arguing for why engaging progressive allies at the values level is better than single issue coalitions that ignore any issue of disagreement. Points of disagreement between people sharing many other values are often fruitful places for integration of concerns that do not necessarily undermine POLICY goals on either side but can instead find ways to emphasize the positive goals that both partners share.

Since I was explicit in saying that no concession would be made on access to abortion, I find it interesting that you read expanding choice on the other side as somehow threatening that choice. Why was that?


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