by Steven Ertelt
January 27, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Hillary Clinton caused a pro-abortion audience to gasp during a Roe v. Wade commemoration speech, saying that abortion activists and pro-life advocates should try to find common ground. Now, key pro-abortion leaders are defending the woman who could be their top candidate for president in 2008.
"I think Sen. Clinton’s comments were a perfect statement of the pro-choice position," NARAL president Nancy Keenan told the Buffalo News. "She has not changed her position."
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, told the Buffalo newspaper she was concerned when she saw the story but reassured when she read the complete text of Clinton’s speech.
"I think the [New York Times’] account is a distortion of the speech," Smeal said. "In many ways, she said that if you’re interested in reducing the number of abortions, you should be with us."
Amy White, marketing and communications director for Planned Parenthood of Buffalo and Erie County, presented the kind of star-struck response that shows Clinton hasn’t alienated her core base.
"She just energized the room," White said. "We were all honored to be in her presence."
In a moment of rare agreement, a representative of the National Right to Life Committee agreed that Clinton was not changing her long-standing views backing abortion.
"She’s not changing her position on abortion; she’s just trying to make it sound more appealing," Carol Tobias, NRLC’s political action committee director, told the Buffalo News. "I think she is trying to lay the groundwork to see if she might run for president in three years."
In the speech, Clinton called for "common ground’ on abortion and acknowledged that abortion is a difficult choice for women.
"There is an opportunity for people of good faith to find common ground in this debate. We should agree that we want every child in this country to be wanted, cherished and loved," Senator Clinton said. "We can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic, choice to many, many women."
William Saletan of Slate magazine argues that Clinton’s speech was simply a shift in the way abortion advocates are presenting their views — or should to meet the increasing number of pro-life Americans.
"Clinton’s speech basically updated the pro-choice message for the age of terrorism," Saletan writes. "Now that abortion’s legality seems more secure, it’s harder to scare libertarians about government in their bedrooms."
Saletan says it has been difficult for abortion advocates to present the "morality" of legalized abortion, especially when so many voters cast ballots in 2004 based on moral issues.
"Pro-choicers have tried this for 40 years, but they always run into a fatal objection: Abortion is so ugly that nobody who supports it can look moral. To earn real credibility, they’d have to admit it’s bad. They often walk up to that line, but they always blink," he explained.
He cites the following in Clinton’s speech as a pro-abortion attempt at updating the "safe, legal and rare" manta of her husband.
"There is no reason why government cannot do more to educate and inform and provide assistance so that the choice guaranteed under our constitution either does not ever have to be exercised or only in very rare circumstances," Mrs. Clinton said.