Campaign 2020: Framing Choice; Framing Abortion. Which are you doing?

By Stephen, 13 February, 2020

No other issue costs Democrats the votes of compassionate voters the way choice|abortion does.

There is no other issue where we so desperately need to have a "big tent" for people who see the world differently, to use progressive communications styles with active listening — and no other issue where we could burn our big tent down by making the wrong compromises and failing to stick to our frame.

I'd like to start with an imagination exercise:

Imagine it's the Democratic convention, and you're hearing from a woman who became pregnant when she didn't want to, and considered abortion, and chose to give birth.

Does it surprise you that she's on stage at the Democratic Convention? Why does it feel surprising? Do the Democrats really believe in their own frame — or in just saying 'no' to the GOP frame?

I think there are a few simple absolutes for Democrats:
* Do we want the participation of voters who are conflicted on abortion? Absolutely yes.
* Do we listen to them, welcome them, find policies that will make them happy? Yes.
* Do we compromise choice, at all, including making it difficult for lower income women to choose? (eg, the Hyde Amendment.) Absolutely not.

The following materials look the space between these absolutes, and are also a guide to the differences between framing and policy.

Choice Strategy Plan: For Campaigns

Download the Choice Strategy Plan we are sharing with campaigns.

Rapid Response: For Social Media

What posts and comments help change the Overton Window on Choice? How do you get people to see the value of policies Democrats have long supported that do in fact, lower abortion, as life-affirming? Participate in helping the Rapid Response team prepare progressives to be more effective on social media.

Framing-vs-Policy: The Hute Amendment

Much of this is my effort to implement George Lakoff's core ideas in Don't Think of an Elephant which I strongly recommend; I've also tried to summarize linguistic framing in Chapter 1 of Cognitive Politics.

Framing Choice; Framing Abortion. Which are you doing?

What is your frame on abortion? What is your metaphor?

Are you "Saying No" to a Republican frame, or saying your own frame? Are you practicing active listening with people who disagree on this one subject — and being clear about the fundamental reasons when you can't compromise without simply disagreeing via partisanship?

Chapter Sanders

Bernie Sanders recently said that "Abortion is medical care." After decades of saying that our theme is a woman's right to autonomy and choices in her own life, he's switched themes and metaphors! This is a great example of progressives winging it while Republicans stay on message: I don't think Sanders chose to not use the Choice framing, so much as wandered off message. And this is typical of Democrats' problems framing: it's not about being honest vs lying or anything complicated like that, just the discipline to learn what framing is and apply it when there is no controversy. Most of my medical decisions do not involve my faith or deep decisions — so Pro-Life says that a fetus is very important; describing abortion as medical care is the same frame: A pregnancy is _________. A pregnancy is a human being; no, a pregnancy is a medical decision. In neither case are women involved at the framing level, though obviously ithe policy choices are opposite in how they treat women. But that's one level of thinking deeper than the slogan.