Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Abortion re-emerges as top issue

Health care debate puts divisive topic at forefront
By Valerie Richardson | Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | Washington Times

Those who remember the 1980s must be experiencing deja vu: Meryl Streep is the toast of Hollywood, Michael Jackson's latest release debuted at the top of the charts, and abortion is the hot-button political topic in Washington.

The abortion issue never really went away, but it's back with a vengeance, driving the political debate on health care, jeopardizing the president's coalition on his centerpiece legislation and threatening to turn the tide of the 2010 elections.

That's not just the opinion of dedicated pro-life and pro-choice activists with an interest in puffing up the importance of their signature issue. Anyone in Washington who had forgotten about the issue's power to sway policy and shape debate can consider themselves reminded.

"I do believe that abortion turned out to be an unexpected and not entirely welcome addition to the health care debate," said Jennifer Duffy, senior political editor at the Cook Political Report, in an e-mail. "It changed the tone somewhat and has exposed fissures in both parties that have been dormant for several years."

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