gr2008071100414.thumbnail.gifObama’s fundraising is trending downwards. Every fundraising campaign needs a bogeyman, and the media helpfully resurrected the anti-Hillary Clinton crusade that the right brewed in the 90s during the primary. Now that we’re in the battle for the general, the media just doesn’t hate John McCain like that, and the public compliantly picks up that attitude. So most of that was pretty predictable.

But in the end, it’s the activists who give. If NARAL’s endorsement of Obama shortly before the primary was over pissed off a lot their big donors, his comments about rejecting the mental health of the mother as an exception to the ban on late term abortions must have pleased few of them. It’s been one of the major right wing assaults on choice for ages, and it certainly gave anti-choice proponents hope of a beachhead in an Obama administration.

Maybe somebody can explain to me why the two biggest choice organizations out there — Planned Parenthood and NARAL — saw their role in all this as scurrying to make this okay:

The reaction to Obama’s statement revealed a divide in the abortion rights community, one that closely tracks the allegiances formed during the Democratic Party’s protracted primary election fight. While NOW and the Feminist Majority voiced concern over Obama’s abortion remarks, two of the largest organizations dedicated to reproductive rights took a different tack and backed up Obama.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, which endorsed Obama in early May, issued a statement of support after Relevant magazine published the interview last week, saying he was a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade and his views were consistent with the landmark ruling establishing the right to an abortion. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which stayed neutral in the primary, announced its formal support of Obama on Tuesday.

I understand they want to see Obama elected, all true choice advocates do.

No matter what his position, he’ll be worlds better than John McCain, and hopefully create an executive environment that choice advocates can work with.

But the big choice groups seem to believe their job is to scurry around on the floor for crumbs and tell their membership that anything that Democratic leaders do is okay. NARAL and Planned Parenthood told their members to thank Joe Lieberman for his vote against Alito, as if his role on the Gang of 14 hadn’t put him there in the first place. NARAL offered cover to House Dems and tell them it was okay to vote for the fetal anesthesia bill, another right wing missile into choice.

What are these people doing? What do they see their role as? They’re supposed to be there guarding choice, not making it comfortable for Democrats to sell it out.

I don’t really see how this horrible crisis of leadership at the top of the pro-choice pyramid helps Obama or anybody else. It simply creates a crisis of confidence when there isn’t even a meaningful dialog going on about reproductive rights and the best way to advocate for them.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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