The New Republic’s gushing profile of NARAL’s new leader

By Dave Andrusko

Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America

Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America

By now everyone knows the Abortion Establishment is not-so-quietly debating which direction (or directions) to take. (We’ve written about their public disputes numerous times, including http://nrlc.cc/VBnGJN, http://nrlc.cc/WftyW9, and http://nrlc.cc/VBnRoh.)

Two of the principle players are NARAL Pro-Choice America (which just selected a new president when the old one said it was time for a more youthful face) and Planned Parenthood (which is rebranding itself by trading in “pro-choice” for “it’s-all-so-complicated”). Ilyse Hogue, NARAL’s new president is, by any one’s definition, a woman of the (far) Left.

As Lauren Enriquez observed [http://nrlc.cc/WfpLYY], Hogue

“is a prolific columnist at The Nation (a prominent leftist magazine), a former senior adviser to Media Matters for America, a former program director at the Rainforest Action Network, and a board member of numerous leftist organizations. She has voiced support for the Young Democratic Socialists, which is the youth arm of Democratic Socialists of America (the largest socialist organization in the U.S.), and has also been the director of political advocacy and communications for MoveOn.org, a popular organization aimed at furthering progressive views in the media.”

Writing in the New Republic, Molly Redden profiled the 43-year-old Hogue (“raised by ACLU-card-carrying parents”) in glowing terms. She is, in a word, cool. Redden writes

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of her fictional heroes. Wearing patterned tights and knee-high boots, she looks the part of someone who could bring youth to a legacy organization—something that wouldn’t be worth remarking upon if it weren’t so rare. Erin Matson, a 32-year-old pro-choice organizer, said she’s excited about NARAL’s leadership change for two reasons: Hogue is a ‘caps-lock progressive’ and she’s actually of reproductive age, someone relatable for the pro-choice movement to put forward when the cable talk shows come calling.”

The gist, as is so often the case with recent media coverage, is that Hogue will simultaneously maintain the best of the old NARAL while transforming it with a transfusion of youth, social media savvy, and an expanded agenda– code for addressing issues of more pressing concern than abortion to prosperous women (with at least a passing nod to the concerns of poorer women).

Let’s ask the same question of NARAL that we could ask of Planned Parenthood’s attempt to refurbish its public image. Why the overhaul? Didn’t their guy just get re-elected President?

The mantra of NARAL’s just retired President Nancy Keenan was that there were “so many of them”—a reference to pro-life youth—and an ominous enthusiasm gap. Like all pro-abortionists Keenan had convinced herself that in numbers, they had the advantage among young people but in intensity, it was pro-lifers—and not by a little.

So, bring in someone young—Hogue—and try to have it both ways. On the one hand appreciate that preserving abortion “rights” is no longer a slogan that sends massive numbers of young women charging up the hill. (Hogue amusingly calls fighting for 40 years to “preserve” abortion “a hamster wheel effect.”)

On the other hand widen its agenda to include other issues that “Many young, typically prosperous women have moved on to.” What exactly those are Hogue does not define for Redden. But what’s worth noting is that NARAL is obviously responding to the younger/newer pro-abortion (“pro-choice”) organizations which have already broadened their goals beyond abortion.

Planned Parenthood, whose political action arm poured millions into Obama’s re-election, understands that what happened last November represented (from their perspective) the perfect storm. But that doesn’t change the underlying realities: the American public is growing more pro-life, as measured by public opinion polls over time, and in its deeper understanding that women carry children, not “fetuses.”

Perhaps more significant in the near-term is that pro-abortion politicians such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo believe a more radical position on abortion will help them win the presidency in 2016. That is very much at odds (at least on the surface) with Planned Parenthood’s new public pitch. Their new video begins:

“Most things in life aren’t simple. And that includes abortion. It’s personal. It can be complicated. And for many people, it’s not a black-and-white issue. So why do people try to label it like it is?”

Of course PPFA’s answer is as simple as it can get: nothing should get in the way of any woman’s untrammeled right to have an abortion at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason. Nothing very complicated there. So, while their rhetoric is cooler than the fiery Cuomo’s, the results are the same: more abortions, later in pregnancy, performed by more and more categories of non-physicians.

Hogue has lots of other interesting baggage which does not relate to our concerns. Suffice it to say NARAL has undergone a sea change in its leadership. And while sympathetic profilers such as Redden may swoon, my guess is that NARAL may be in for a very rude awakening.

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