Why Are Some Religious Progressives Reinforcing the Religious Right on Abortion And Health Care Reform?

Posts like this raise many questions. Namely: how many times will the Religious-Industrial Complex go to the same well? And: how many times will US News & World Report blogger Dan Gilgoff dutifully write up the latest iteration of this same threadbare press release for them without bothering to evaluate its premises?

Most of all, it raises the question of how monumentally irresponsible progressive activists would have to be to risk jeopardizing health-care reform by playing into right-wing talking points.

Let’s make no mistake about it: that is exactly what’s happening here. The idea that changes in health-care would increase funding for abortion comes straight out of the Religious Right outrage machine, and its purpose couldn’t be clearer. They want to make any kind of meaningful reform toxic.

Repeating the charges—even if it’s to point to a “common ground solution”—only strengthens the hands of those opposed to reform. The president has said—repeatedly—that the status quo on federal funding for abortion will remain just that. It’s understandable that the potential for change on this point may not be “only a conservative concern”—there are indeed pro-life progressives—but it’s incredibly myopic.

If conservative religious concern trolls succeed in weakening health care reform by making bogus attacks on abortion, they just might succeed in taking reform down, and they’ll use the power they gain from that success to take an even tougher line on abortion than pro-life progressives want. I honestly cannot understand how anyone who cares about either issue could fail to connect the dots on this one. Buying into this criticism weakens progressives across the board, even the ones who might kinda sorta agree with it. The only appropriate response is to point out that it isn’t part of a good-faith effort to bring down the number of abortions. Call it what it is: a partisan attempt to hamstring a president of the opposing party on his signature issue.

At the same time, it needs to be said that not many religious progressives are worried that health care reform will lead to more abortions. Some of them are, and they’re entitled to their worries. But by no means do all progressive religious people share this concern. In fact, abortion doesn’t seem to have slowed them down a bit.

Which leads us back to some questions. Given that opinion is split on the priority given to the abortion issue even with the religious progressive coalition, why is it that Dan Gilgoff is reporting this story as if all the liberals were upset? It’s not like he hasn’t spoken to religious pro-choice advocates, myself among many others. He knows where to find us.

And given that telling the Religious Right to go jump in the lake is the simplest, truest, most effective strategy, why are some progressive religious groups choosing instead to reinforce their narrative?