POLITICS

Carney: Democrats use abortion to rally base, raise money

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Politics,Timothy P. Carney,Campaign 2012,Politics Digest

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Happily on the offensive in the culture war, Democrats this week unleashed a string of pulpit-pounding sermons on abortion, birth control and gay marriage.

The theme of the culture-war rhetoric in Charlotte has been increasing government to impose liberal views, while calling Republicans the morality police.

Even before the convention was gaveled to order, the Left's culture warriors were on the attack. Abortion provider Planned Parenthood held a midday rally on Tuesday in support of Obama and the subsidies and mandates he has pushed.

Volunteers passed around free condoms, while women wearing giant vagina costumes sang anti-Romney anthems. Meanwhile, a Planned Parenthood mascot dressed as a birth control pill package danced about the stage leading the crowd in chants.

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., took the stage and railed that Republicans were "trying to take away Planned Parenthood" by cutting funding to the nation's leading abortion provider. Moore said the choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was a referendum on "whether or not you can have contraception."

Of course, Mitt Romney won't ban, regulate or restrict contraception in any way. Instead, he opposes the Obama administration mandate that employers give their female employees 100 percent coverage for contraception.

But Moore's misrepresentation is the norm in Charlotte. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., falsely stated from the convention podium that Romney would "turn over women's health decisions to their bosses."

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards asked at the rally, "Can you believe we're fighting in 2012 over the right of women in America to get birth control?" She concluded, "That's exactly what this election is about."

So it turns out the organization's defenders were correct during the budget fights: Planned Parenthood isn't just about abortion -- it's also about re-electing Obama.

One of the first orders of business Tuesday was approving the party platform. As a Washington Examiner editorial noted Wednesday, "The platform mentions abortion more times (four) than unemployment (three). It mentions 'gay'/'LGBT' [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] more times (six) than debt (five)."

The Democratic platform turns abortion into an entitlement by demanding a right to an abortion "regardless of ability to pay." And it seems to reject any restrictions on abortion -- such as parental notification rules or limitations on aborting a viable baby nine months into a pregnancy -- with the line, "We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right" to an abortion.

And as the evening went on, the abortion talk heated up. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, was greeted with roars of approval when she spoke of abortion. Jeff Smith, a former Democratic congressional candidate from Missouri, reported on Twitter that he and another pro-choice Dem "winced" at Keenan's speech.

Rather than skirt the issue with euphemisms about "women's health care," some of the Democratic speakers were pretty stark. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick worked the crowd into a frenzy, declaring, "We believe that freedom means keeping government out of our most private affairs, including out of a woman's decision whether to keep an unwanted pregnancy."

On the podium schedule for Wednesday night was Sandra Fluke, an idol on the Left for attending a Catholic law school with the intention of forcing the school to pay for her contraception.

Why are Democrats hitting abortion and the contraception mandate so hard? Wednesday's Examiner editorial rightly pointed out that for Democrats, anything is a welcome distraction from the Obama economy and national debt.

These issues also rally the party base, and in Charlotte, they are rallied. Delegates showing up at the convention grounds Wednesday morning were still beaming from the previous night's oratory.

But abortion is also a huge fundraising matter for Democrats. EMILY's List and Planned Parenthood both operate political action committees, super-PACs and 527s. EMILY's List has spent more on this election so far than any other single-issue group, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Outside groups have spent more than $10 million on pro-choice advertising this election, according to the Washington Post.

And in Obama, these groups have gotten what they want. Planned Parenthood board member and actress Aisha Tyler on Tuesday called him "the best president this country has ever seen." Tyler recounted how Obama, during the debt-ceiling negotiations in 2011, drew his only hard-and-fast line at Planned Parenthood funding.

There's no mistaking these days that Democrats are waging a culture war. And among the troops in Charlotte, morale is high.

Timothy P.Carney, The Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Monday and Thursday, and his stories and blog posts appear on washingtonexaminer.com.

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