My second campaign ad: Too close for comfort, Reproductive rights, unintended pregnancy, and the 2012 election

The right to choose is more than a slogan. It’s the right to be treated with dignity as people face some of the most intimate and difficult moments in life.

This is my second political commercial, I wrote and produced it, with the help of my friend Frey Hoffman @freydesign. Incidentally, the Planned Parenthood building behind me housed an adoption organization called the Cradle. It seems to be a very worthy organization.

The script is below. We couldn’t use all of it, because of the time constraints of a two-minute video.

Hello, I’m Harold Pollack. I don’t have a superpac. No one approved this message. It’s just me.

You know, I’ve been a public health researcher for 20 years now. Every single challenge I’ve worked on is made so much more difficult by the problem of unintended pregnancy. These issues would be so much easier to address if women had supports that they need to care for themselves and for their children, and if young women had the tools and the information they need to control their sexual lives, and to have healthy, intended pregnancies when they are ready.

I’m standing in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic. It’s right over there.  Governor Romney has pledged to defund these because of the abortion issue. Abortion is a tough issue. Especially as the caregiver for an intellectually disabled person, I don’t think we should we scream at each other over abortion. I get that.

But I think Governor Romney is making a mistake. Facilities like this provide primary care for many people. They provide women with effective contraception that reduce rates of teen pregnancy and abortion, too. They are important community institutions.

He’s also making a mistake in his pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. He supports banning abortion, with exceptions for cases of rape and incest, and cases in which pregnancy poses a serious threat to the life or the health of the mother.

Let’s think about the implications of that. Suppose that your daughter, your sister, your friend was dealing with an unintended pregnancy. Right now, she now has the constitutional right to consult with whomever she sees fit, and to make her own choice.

But what would happen if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, and the Supreme Court allowed states to outlaw abortions–with the exceptions that Governor Romney supports? First, ninety percent of women would lose the right to choose. And what about the remaining ten percent? They would need to ask permission strangers—maybe a judge, maybe a panel of medical experts—to explain why the circumstances of their pregnancies deserve some specific exemption. Do we really want to humiliate people like that?

 The right to choose is more than a slogan. It’s the right to be treated with dignity as people face some of the most intimate and difficult moments in life. We’re one presidential election away, one 79-year-old Supreme Court justice away, from seeing that right to choose overturned. And that’s too close for comfort.  

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

15 thoughts on “My second campaign ad: Too close for comfort, Reproductive rights, unintended pregnancy, and the 2012 election”

  1. “But what would happen if Roe v Wade were overturned?”

    I think it would turn our courts into one, very long episode of Queen For A Day. What a horror it would be.

    1. You beat me to it, that was going to be my comment.

      As it is often pointed out, if those people really wanted to prevent abortions they’d be working on making sure everyone who wanted/needed contraception had it avaialble to them.

    2. You beat me to it, that was going to be my comment.

      As it is often pointed out, if those people really wanted to prevent abortions they’d be working on making sure everyone who wanted/needed contraception had it avaialble to them. But they don’t and they don’t

  2. Harold,

    Back in the bad old days, wealthy women got abortions by going overseas to places like Stockholm or Copenhagen where abortion is safe and legal. Middle class women got abortions by going to a State where it was legal, or across the border into Mexico. Poor women (and uninformed women) got abortions from (mostly) unlicensed “providers” locally.

    There is no reason to believe that things will not revert to the status quo ante should Roe v. Wade be overturned. We are already seeing a partial return of the bad old days in forcing women to travel from benighted places like Mississippi or Alabama to get abortion services.

    What it comes down to for me, though, is a simple question. Are women moral agents or not? If they are, we have no business interfering with these most intimate decisions.

  3. “But what would happen if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, and the Supreme Court allowed states to outlaw abortions–with the exceptions that Governor Romney supports? First, ninety percent of women would lose the right to choose.”

    You do realize that an essential premise of this claim is that early abortions are wildly unpopular with the public, such that legislatures, if freed of restraint by the Supreme court, would almost uniformly enact the most restrictive abortion laws imaginable? That your side has completely lost the PR war, and keeps it’s desired policies in place only by judicial fiat, in the teeth of overwhelming democratic opposition?

    Because if that’s not true, the Supreme court undoes Roe v Wade, and pretty much nothing happens, because most legislatures don’t want to enact the laws you oppose.

    1. Brett,
      You ignore the fact that the Republican party is intent on passing a federal law outlawing abortion (with exceptions). These bills have been co-sponsered by congressmen such as the would-be-VP Paul Ryan and harolded by the would-be-President Mitt Romney who said he would “be delighted to sign that bill”. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, then the state legislatures wont have to enact anti-abortion laws; the Republican party (hijacked by the religious right) will do it for them on the federal level.

      1. But I thought the Republicans were federalists, who want to leave things up to the states. Or is that only when they can’t get their way at the national level?

      2. What I didn’t do, is ignore the phrase, “allowed states to outlaw abortions”. I’d be perfectly fine with not allowing this on a federal level, for enumerated powers reasons, but the post didn’t raise the issue of federal law. It suggested this would happen if states were permitted to work their will on the subject.

        The larger point is that the actions of democratically elected legislatures are constrained by public opinion. The line I quoted, thus, amounts to an admission that public opinion is very strongly against you.

        1. you do realize that an essential fact you are leaving out of your statements is that early abortions are wildly unpopular with republican politicians who couldn’t give a good goddamn whether that represents the thinking of their district or not and if freed of restraint would almost certainly enactthe most restrictive abortion laws imaginable? they haven’t even waited in some localities for roe v wade to be overturned. all of which is to say that your argument is remarkably disingenuous.

        2. Did you notice the phrase,

          “[Romney] supports banning abortion, with exceptions for cases of rape and incest, and cases in which pregnancy poses a serious threat to the life or the health of the mother.” Romney is running for President, not Governor.

          And by the way, when did libertarians such as yourself decide it was OK to allow legislatures, state or national, to ban abortions?

          1. Actually, I decided it wasn’t ok to misrepresent the result of Roe v Wade being overturned. This was just hysteria, unless the underlying premise is that the pro-choice position is wildly unpopular. Care to agree that it is?

            As for libertarians and abortions, libertarian views on abortion are hardly monolithic. It is, however, quite common for libertarians to favor a ban on late term abortions, for the very same reason non-libertarians do: You wait long enough before doing the abortion, you’re killing a person.

  4. Part of my view as a (male) supporter of the right to choose, is considering what happens if there were no longer such a right? What happens to the (unwanted – for whatever reason) children? Among other concerns, I want assurances that every child can be placed in a caring home. And I mean all of them, not just the white infants. You never seem to hear how the ‘conservatives’ propose to deal with that aspect of their stated “no choice” public policy.

    Speaking as an adopted son, who was placed from the Cradle agency. Who is the son of a father who was also adopted from the Cradle agency.

  5. Dennis,

    I certainly agree with your post, with one little added thought. The definition of “Unlicensed local Providers” has changed considerably in 40 years. Pre R v W there were many “providers” who were actually trying to ease some pain and make the process as safe as possible, and still the posters of botched jobs were every bit as gruesome as those we often see now from pro-lifers. I believe if you overturn Roe v Wade today, you’ll be providing a nice little high-paying job for the girlfriend of every crack dealer in town, and I just don’t think they care very much.

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