Abortionpalooza in Charlotte: Did we mention we support a woman’s right to choose?


Supporters hoist signs as the President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards speaks to the audience at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 5, 2012 on the second day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Naturally, conservatives are loving the clarity of the party’s “hammer, meet nail” approach: RedState.com’s Erick Erickson tweeted that the first night of the DNC was indistinguishable from “the Vagina Monologues,’’ and the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis dubbed the result “Abortion-palozza.’’

Republicans pitched to women at their recent convention in Tampa, too, of course — “I love you women!’’ shouted a giddy Ann Romney from the stage — though they didn’t have much to say about what they’d actually do for us, and were all but mum on social issues.


President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards speaks on stage during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 5, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Chip Somodevilla/GETTY IMAGES)

Deval Patrick and Michelle Obama all did, too.

For those still not sure where the party stands, a young mom named Libby Bruce told delegates how Planned Parenthood treated her endometriosis 12 years ago. One-time Republican Maria Ciano assured them that if voters give the president a second term, “our right to make our own most personal decisions will be safe for another generation.” Sandra Fluke claimed that if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are elected instead, we’ll wake up in “an America in which you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms.”

After hours, delegates could attend their choice of parties hosted by pro-choice groups. And in the street in front of the convention center, women in pink Planned Parenthood t-shirts argued with protesters holding fetal photos I could have lived a long, happy life without ever glimpsing. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear this was the issue dividing the parties.


Senator John Kerry, (D-Mass.) and Patrick Kennedy (center) watch a tribute to Ted Kennedy at the 2012 Democratic National Convention on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Bonnie Jo Mount/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Catholic University’s Steve Schneck argued that the number of abortions would skyrocket if Romney is elected and Medicaid funding slashed, because a majority of women who have abortions cite financial considerations as a factor and the cuts in aid to those already struggling would only worsen those challenges.

But that’s not a message mentioned from the podium.

Will Democrats pay a price for pitching to the base at the expense of moderates? Probably not, because undecided voters are unlikely to have tuned in for speech after speech outside of prime time. Bill Clinton was the pitch man for that voter. He did a genius job at breaking down the economic argument for Obama, too, and thankfully did not present himself as a friend of womankind.

Even the tribute to Teddy Kennedy, who for many years considered himself pro-life, was used to drive home the ubiquitous abortion rights theme, via footage of the ’94 senatorial debate in which Kennedy called Romney “multiple choice” on the issue. A tireless advocate for the dispossessed, Kennedy was so much more than that — and his party used to be, too.


Melinda Henneberger has been writing about politics and culture for the Washington Post since 2011.

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