Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is being criticized by abortion advocates for making a statement that would have been incredibly wholly noncontroversial in a past version of the American political scene: That the willful taking of unborn life is not something that ought to be celebrated.
During one point of a presidential candidate forum on Saturday, Yang was asked how he intended to message his views on late-term abortion with Americans voters who don't support it.
"I think we have to get back to the point where no one is suggesting that we be celebrating an abortion at any point in the pregnancy," Yang began. "There was a time in Democratic circles where we used to talk about it being something, like, that you don't like to see, but should be within the freedoms of the woman and the mother to decide."
The candidate went on to add:
There is a really important tone to set on this, where you don't just say, like, we're absolutist about it, though I have to say I am relatively absolutist about it on this. Like I think that it should be completely up to the woman and her doctor and the state should not be intervening all the way through pregnancy. But it's a tragedy to me if someone decides they don't want to have a child and they're on the fence and then maybe at some point later; it's a very difficult personal decision and it's something that we should be very, very sensitive to. I think that celebrating children, family, like these are universal human values and if we manage to lead on that and say that we also stand for women's reproductive rights, I believe we can bring Americans closer together on a really, really important personal issue.
While Yang's answer got some applause from those in the audience, it drew scorn and criticism from abortion proponents on social media, where Yang was accused of "demonizing" abortion and spreading "right-wing slander."
It is time for Yang to drop out. This take on abortion is completely disqualifying. Using this type of language is… https://t.co/u6BUuES4un— Logan Levkoff, Ph.D. (@Logan Levkoff, Ph.D.) 1581183307.0
Nobody “celebrates abortion.” That’s a right-wing slander with no basis in reality. https://t.co/wdCv8IlcQy— Jeff Yang (@Jeff Yang) 1581191238.0
1 in 4 women have had an abortion in this country, and Andrew Yang is mocking their choice and humanity when he dem… https://t.co/K8Lsvh9Ohu— Lauren Rankin (@Lauren Rankin) 1581184088.0
I had a couple of people say to me last night during the debate that all the Dems are basically the same on abortio… https://t.co/eF8cUDvJXL— Angus Johnston (@Angus Johnston) 1581183191.0
Cool. So in summary, Yang is fine with safe and legal abortions, as long as women feel judged and ashamed while get… https://t.co/v1GaC2AFay— Matthew Chapman (@Matthew Chapman) 1581196105.0
Counterpoint: no person should feel ashamed for getting an abortion, and part of eliminating that shame is removing… https://t.co/bVGQrth4FE— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈) 1581185776.0
Just to be clear here: Yang made it very clear that he supports the legal taking of unborn life all the way through a pregnancy, but merely made the point about how the decision to do so ought to be discussed among people who supported and drew criticism for it, which actually helps make his point to a certain degree.
And while some abortion abortion proponents may try to argue that nobody is celebrating it, it's not hard to see where Yang's assessment comes from. When a pro-abortion group gives out candles that say "abortions are magical" as party favors, when women are encouraged to "shout" their abortions, when art shows declare that "abortion is normal," when New York applauds the passage of an extreme late-term abortion law and the One World Trade Center is lit up in response to it, it's not hard to see how someone could see how the tone on the "pro-choice" side of side of the argument just might be off-putting to those who aren't completely sold on the matter.
But even if Yang could succeed in toning down the messaging on late-term abortion, the numbers show he'd have an uphill battle selling the substance of his message, even to some Democrats. Gallup polling conducted in May 2019 showed that 29% of Democrats identified as "pro-life." And while it found that a smaller percentage of Democrats identified as "pro-life," Marist polling conducted in January found that 44% of Democrats and 65% of Americans over all favor restrictions on abortions ranging from limiting it to the first three months of a pregnancy to not allowing it under any circumstances.