August 17, 2007

Hillary Clinton calls pro-choice voters lazy

Posted in Politics, Reproduction at 6:35 pm by The Lizard Queen

This month’s issue of Marie Claire contains an interview with Hillary Clinton. Here’s what she had to say on the subject of abortion (emphasis added):

JC: Next subject: abortion. Some women feel that your language is becoming much more moderate on the issue. What do you say to reassure them?

HC: I’ve been saying the same thing for as long as I can remember: I believe abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. I do think women should have a choice but also that women should be making responsible decisions. I think people who have been pro-choice have basically gotten lazy about it. There will be a concerted effort by the Supreme Court to try to push as far as they possibly can [last spring, the court upheld a ban on so-called partial-birth abortions], and if they go all the way and either repeal or overturn Roe v. Wade, then it will become a political issue again in the legislatures of every state, and people will find themselves having to be politically active. When you’re part of a group that cares deeply — as the anti-choice people do — you get organized, and you vote on that issue, whereas people who are pro-choice vote on a lot of different issues. I bet a lot of people among your readers voted for George W. Bush because they concluded that he was more likeable or whatever. But if [abortion rights] is the most important issue to any of your readers, then it has to become a voting issue.

[My response on the flip side…]

First of all, my subscription to Marie Claire was a gift, but it’s one of the few mainstream fashion magazines I’m willing to read on a regular basis because it has a social conscience. (Though there was another article in this issue that nearly had me calling up to cancel my subscription, which I’m thinking about blogging about in spite of the fact that it’s very personal and not something I ever really wanted to talk about on my blog.) Because of that, I felt thoroughly insulted by the statement that lots of MC readers probably voted for George Bush because “he was more likeable or whatever,” and judging by one of the online comments, I’m not alone in feeling that way.

Second, as to the alleged laziness of pro-choicers: are you fucking kidding me?? It has to become a voting issue?? Senator Clinton, what exactly do you think women like me have been doing since we turned 18? Voting for the candidate most likely to give us a pony? Failing to get to the polls on election day because we were getting a manicure? When abortion rights are under the gun, do you generally see solely anti-choice demonstrations? I’ll certainly grant that Bush wouldn’t have gotten elected had pro-choice voters outnumbered anti-choice voters at the polls (of course, that begs the question of whether or not he truly won the popular vote either time), but I think Clinton’s viewpoint fails to take the power of the religious right and its anti-choice rhetoric into account. Maybe it’s fair to say that many women who self-identify as pro-choice need to become more vocal and active about it if they want to guarantee a woman’s right to choose, and I think we (i.e. pro-choicers) all need to work more toward true reproductive freedom (to wit, bring the issue of women of color being sterilized or otherwise prevented from having children out of the darkness and work toward reproductive protections for them as well). That being said, however, how dare you accuse pro-choice women of laziness, Senator Clinton?

Finally, like just about any issue, I think the issue of a woman’s right to choose falls on a spectrum. There are people who fall toward the center, and while they might self-identify as pro-choice or “pro-life,” it’s not something they really get passionate about. Then you have the people closer to the ends of the spectrum, and I don’t think the people on the “pro-life” end have been any more vocal or active about the issue as those on the pro-choice end. I think any discrepancies that exist come from the people in the middle. They come from the people who are swayed by bogus accounts of the horrors of “partial-birth” abortion. They come from men who believe the issue doesn’t affect them, or who have taken women’s statements like “my body, my choice” to heart, but unfortunately take it to mean that they shouldn’t vote on the issue. They come from people who aren’t paying attention.

Yes, there are other issues I’m passionate about. That’s patently obvious to anyone who reads this blog. However, a) candidates who are strongly in environmentalist, pro-freedom of speech, pro-labor, pro-religious freedom, pro-GLBT rights, pro-animal rights, pro-education, etc. camps are rarely anti-choice, and b) if I did find a candidate who stood for all the things I stand for but wanted to limit reproductive freedom, I could not in good conscience vote for that candidate. It’s never come to that point, however, because I have never come across a mainstream candidate who agreed with me 100%. Of the current Presidential candidates, the two who seem to come the closest (at least according to the Political Compass) are Gravel and Kucinich. By the time the general election rolls around, I fear I’ll be voting for whoever the Democrats send up there simply because it’s the best I can do, but that’s the way it goes in a representative democracy.

A final question: how on earth was that answer an attempt to “reassure” women who feel Clinton’s “language is becoming much more moderate on the issue” of abortion? It felt more like a kiss-off to me.



  1. […] Posted by Evil Bender in reproductive rights, News and politics. trackback The Lizard Queen has a must-read post exploring Hillary Clinton’s “reassurance” about her pro-choice cr…, assurance that basically calls for appeasement of those who want to ban abortion. Check it out, […]

  2. Dave said,

    I think one of the biggest reasons Bush won, especially in 2004 (after he had pretty well proven to everyone that he was horrible at being president) was because of his strict pro-life stance. Bush won big amongst poor southern voters, and I think that the vast majority of them knew that there interests (aside from the pro-life agenda) would not be looked out for. I remember listening to analysis of the election on “This American Life” Where Ira glass was interviewing people throughout the voting process and asking them why they voted the way they did. A surprising number of Bush voters were very unhappy with Bush as president because of his economic, domestic, and foreign policies but voted for him solely because they couldn’t vote for a candidate that was pro choice and who, in their eyes, would allow murder to be legal. It’s my opinion that the Bush camp understood this very well and leveraged the Pro-choice and “Faith based” support to get whatever they wanted on other fronts.

    I may be wrong, but I really don’t think that the average pro-choice supporter would vote so focused on one issue. With the economic fate, international standing, and human rights condition, of this country hanging by a thread; there are a lot of important decisions and innovative solutions that need to be made right away in order to avoid a very very bad economic and, consequently, human rights disaster in this Country. While, abortion rights are very important and are threatened more now than they have been since the seventies, I think that many pro-choice supporters are more aware that there are other issues that are just as pressing and important so they won’t strictly vote pro-choice like the pro-lifers did. Hillary Clinton may call this lazy, I really don’t think that’s the right word for it. At any rate, I think that she has identified correctly that, with the pro-life contingent being so strong and unified at the moment, this may not bode well for Roe Vs. Wade in the short term. It seems to me though, that this is a move by Clinton to gain support in moderate and conservative camps, more than it is to reassure her pro-choice voters.

  3. Steve said,

    HIllary, or Bill which ever believes that they will be in charge,


    Would you Haillary want us telling you what you CAN do? I hardly think so. You can not even keep a tight rein on Billary I mean Bill. It is no ones right to make that choice, but the one or two people involved. Thier choice and no one esle has a right to tell them or anyone else what they can do. with the bodies……

  4. […] what I’m thinking. When it comes down to it, I’m torn. I’m still bitter about Hillary Clinton’s Marie Claire interview (evidently I’m far more likely to hold a grudge when it comes to politics than I am in my […]

  5. my name is seventeen years old said,

    Hilary clinton does not.. in my opinion… will not make a rightful president. i think her intentions of stepping up to the plate and trying to be president is fine, but this is going way to far. personally, has anyone really thought on how the other nations of the world is going to react to have her as our president? i mean seriously, things are only looking downhill. and i believe that if she is going to critize her own beliefs, in which she did in this interview because she is all about helping immagrants and letting them come here and live for free when have of this country is suffering and falling even farther into debt because of the outragous gas, and tax prices now. if anyone in their right mind thinks that she is making the right choice by allowing more immigrants into our country and helping them without even glancing at the american CILIVANS right underneath her nose and help them first, then she might get a few more people to actually look her way. but she is not a good candidate for presidency now or personally never. i don’t think that woman have the emotionally or psyhical capacity to run a country. and i am a woman, girl whatever you see me as, but i’m not being sexist but i truly and honestly believe that some jobs were really made for a man, and that a man can uphold our country better than a woman can. i’m seventeen and i can’t wait until i can stand and vote, and talk to people of higher rank and meet with them face to face because i want to make a difference and if i had the chance to talk ot hilary clinton then i would really tell her word ofr word what i said and this is not how my parents feel or anything. this is one individual woman that has her head put on her shoulders, believes in GOd, and stands for her country and it’s honor. I will not back down on how i feel about this because many of people that don’t get the chance to say how they feel, and this is me taking that stand for them and myself.

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