As the Democratic Party attempts to regain its identity before the 2004 presidential campaign, one of the main issues of contention within the party is the issue of abortion rights. On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to ban the intact dilation and extraction procedure, commonly known as partial-birth abortion.
Pending approval by the House, President Bush will sign this bill into law.
Over the past few months, Bush has systematically placed the abortion issue back on the negotiating table, a fact many Americans have failed to notice as international issues have trumped the domestic agenda.
Within the Democratic Party, there are many lines of debate as to whether partial-birth abortions should be banned. Sixteen Democrats voted in favor of the bill and 27 opposed. There were two noticeable abstentions from the abortion vote: Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the both of whom are considered front runners for the Democratic nomination.
Where were they when this matter came to a vote? According to their spokesmen, Kerry and Edwards were out on the campaign trail. Their spokesmen both assured the American public that they would have voted against the bill.
It is the responsibility of the president to stand with their convictions. On an issue as controversial and as integral to the Democratic platform as women’s reproductive rights, the future Democratic candidate has the responsibility to be on the Senate floor for such an important vote.
Bush’s presidency has shown the influence of the executive branch in defining the nature of the abortion debate. With division currently ruling the party elite, it becomes important that a presidential candidate is candid about their positions and willing to take stands that may be politically risky.
University Wire — U. of Michigan