Sen. Hillary Clinton…
Sen. Hillary Clinton is trying to sound more centrist as she prepares the ground for a possible presidential bid.

ALBANY, Jan. 24 – Proposing new political language about abortion rights for the Democratic Party, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said today that friends and foes on the issue should come together on “common ground” to reduce the number of “unwanted pregnancies” and ultimately abortions, which she called a “sad, even tragic choice to many, many women.”

Yes, she’s sounding more conservative on this. I mean, she’s challenging the orthodoxy as put out by the biggest proponents of abortion, Planned Parenthood:

Many women who have an abortion suffer severe and lasting psychological damage.

Expert Opinion:
Serious emotional problems following abortion are uncommon. Most women report a sense of relief, although some may experience temporary depression. Serious psychological disturbances after abortion occur less frequently than after childbirth.

[Hat tip to James Taranto for the link.] So Hillary’s building her common ground some distance from the liberal foundational idea that abortions are, in fact, a very good thing overall. Mrs. Clinton says that to “many, many women”, abortion is a “tragic choice” while Planned Parenthood’s “Expert Opinion” says that “most women” feel relieved. She’s sounding positively pro-life for a bit there.

Mrs. Clinton, in a speech to about 1,000 abortion rights supporters at the state Capitol, firmly restated her support for the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, Roe v. Wade. But then she quickly shifted gears, offering warm words to opponents of abortion – particularly members of religious groups – asserting that there was “common ground” to be found after three decades of emotional and political warfare over abortion.

And here she’s reaching out to religious groups for that common ground. Well, as you know, for many of those religious groups I’m assuming she’s referring to, the time to deal with this issue is far earlier than the third trimester of the pregnancy; about 9 months earlier. Don’t have sex, and there’s a 0% chance you’ll get pregnant. Finding common ground between “abortions for all” and “abstinence” is a tough call to make, and Hillary continues to reach for it.

While she acknowledged in her address today that Americans have “deeply held differences” over abortion rights, Mrs. Clinton told the annual conference of the Family Planning Advocates of New York State, “I for one respect those who believe with all their heart and conscience that there are no circumstances under which abortion should be available.”

In addition to her description of abortion as a “tragic choice” for many,” Mrs. Clinton said that faith and organized religion were the “primary” reasons that teenagers abstain from sexual relations, and reminded the audience that during the 1990’s, she promoted “teen celibacy” as a way to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

“The fact is, the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Again, positively pro-life, although the “teen celibacy” thing doesn’t really ring a bell, neither in my mind nor on the Web. A search of Google for “teen celibacy” and “clinton” doesn’t turn up much (though it does turn up this book review on a NOW website that claims teen celibacy doesn’t work). In fact, the majority of the web sites found cut down the idea and/or associate it with President George W. Bush. Nobody on the left who expressed an opinion in this search had anything good to say about it, let alone remembering anything Hillary did in that cause. Maybe that’s why she needed to remind folks about what she did, but it appears her efforts didn’t do much good. Is she trying to get that idea out there again as part of her “common ground”?

Mrs. Clinton also called today for the Bush administration, religious groups, supporters and opponents of abortion rights and others to look beyond the abortion rights divide and form a broad alliance on other issues that she suggested as less incendiary: sex-education programs for teenagers that included abstinence education, emergency contraception for women who have recently had unprotected intercourse, and family planning.

Ah, here’s where she let’s us know what this “common ground” is:

  • “sex-education programs for teenagers that included abstinence education” – A small but good point, although when I was in high school 20-some years ago, that’s exactly what I got; a sex-ed class that did include abstinence along with what the other options were. That’s not really a radically new idea, and not one that seems to have been all that effective. But at least it’s one small step for Hillary.
  • “emergency contraception for women who have recently had unprotected intercourse” – Sounds like RU-486. Yeah, the religious groups will love that.
  • “family planning” – That’s what Planned Parenthood (you know, the “abortion is a relief” folks) already says it’s doing.
  • And the aforementioned teen celibacy.

So of the four “common ground” areas, one’s been tried and didn’t work well, two are the status quo in favor of pro-abortionists, and one, while sounding good, is virtually uniformily rejected by liberals even with Hillary behind it. How exactly is this “common ground”?

Several women in the audience reacted positively to Mrs. Clinton, whose remarks were interrupted by applause several times and ended with a standing ovation. But they also said her language and themes seemed politically calculated to deal with the abortion “freak-out” among Democrats, as one audience member put it, and reach out to independent and conservative voters in hopes of broadening her base of support for a possible 2008 presidential run.

And that’s what this all is; political calculation. She checks off a list of conservative-sounding objectives, but her ideas are nothing more than the standard leftist line. Liberals will love it because it sounds centrist. Independents and Conservatives shouldn’t be fooled until she acts centrist. Given what actions she thinks needs to be taken, we won’t be.

(Cross-posted at Comments welcome.)

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