A jarring curio featuring imagery typically seen in right-wing ads from a candidate who’s as left-wing as mainstream Democrats get. “This may be the first use of an ultrasound in a political ad that isn’t about stripping people of their basic reproductive rights,” writes Jezebel, using the preferred liberal euphemism for abortion. Ignore the jargon, though, and appreciate the point. How often do you see a picture of a baby in the womb in a Democratic ad?
And not just any Democrat. Law prof Zephyr Teachout is a champion of Occupy Wall Street, a former primary challenger to Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York, and a current candidate for the state AG job endorsed by the likes of Bernie Sanders and The Nation. She’s a minor progressive star, soon to be major if she pulls the upset in the attorney general race. (She’s within striking distance.) And she’s firmly pro-choice too, of course, having earned NARAL’s support in her failed run for the House two years ago. The left has deteriorated morally on the subject of abortion to the point where she’d have no chance of surviving a primary in New York if she weren’t.
No doubt she’d say (and has said) that there’s no contradiction in a supporter of abortion rights celebrating a life she’s chosen to carry to term. Pro-choice women give birth every day across America. But of course there is some contradiction in a Democratic pol doing so; there’s a reason the ad caught Jezebel’s eye, after all. Implicitly, Teachout’s ad rebukes the idea of choosing abortion for reasons of convenience. If she’s willing to carry this baby to term while vying to become the top law enforcement officer of New York, then this baby’s life must be tremendously important. And if this one is tremendously important, others’ must be tremendously important too. Intentionally or not, Teachout is subverting the orthodoxy that (a) a professional woman forced to choose between career and motherhood should choose the former, especially when she’s well-educated and ambitious, and (b) the stakes in abortion are low, a key assumption in making a procedure as disgusting as late-term termination politically palatable. There’s a reason why poll after poll shows Americans open to abortion in the first trimester and then dramatically chillier as gestation advances: The clearer it is that a recognizable human life is at stake, the more squeamish they get about ending it. Teachout’s ad makes it recognizable. It’s downright radical in that sense.
I hope she wins. New York’s bound to get left-wing dreck from the next AG no matter who it is; it could do worse than getting it from someone who thinks motherhood is so compatible with progressivism that she’d build an entire campaign ad around the idea. Besides, given the variety of degenerates who have occupied the office in the recent past, a proud mom would be a wholesome change of pace. Here’s the spot, which naturally refers to the Russiagate probe at one point because you’ve gotta know how to talk to your base, after all.