Friday, June 5, 2009

Common Ground on Abortion?

This Slate article makes excellent sense to me. Author William Saletan suggests abortion foes and advocates work as hard at finding common ground as President Obama has in seeking common ground with Muslims, and suggests four specifics:
1) Abortion supporters need to accept "abortion reduction" as a goal. I've always liked President Clinton's way of putting it: "safe, legal, and rare."
As Saletan says, " No ordinary person sees a difference between reducing abortions and reducing the need for abortions."
2) Abortion opponents need to stop also opposing contraception.
As Saletan says, "Next to abstinence, contraception is the surest way to prevent abortions, period. Save your scruples about taxpayers' rights for an issue where nobody's dying."
3) Don't let the actions of extremists (such as the recent murder of a doctor who performed late-term abortions) stop the seeking of common ground.
As Saletan says, "Look at the president. Instead of portraying Muslims as family members of terrorists, he's reaching out to them so that they won't become or support extremists. You would do well to treat pro-lifers the same way."
4) Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to money.
As Saletan says, "Stop quarreling about indirect funding, and focus instead on the most direct question: preventing abortions. You might even discover that the most efficient way to prevent abortions in the long term is to fund the family planning organizations you keep trying to defund."

Here are my own (slightly-updated) previous thoughts on abortion:

I'm always amazed when folks on both sides of the abortion debate go way out of their way to avoid obviously reasonable compromises. Here are examples:

1. Some folks still oppose nearly all forms of birth control, even when used by married couples, yet have the gall to demand any resulting pregnancy not be aborted. I understand their argument -- that birth control pills, and IUDs do not prevent fertilization, acting rather to prevent implantation, much like an abortion, and agree that it's hard to set any specific starting point for life other than at conception. But if aborting at that stage is wrong, then what does that make of Nature and Nature's God who allow a significant percentage of fertilized eggs not to implant even without our assistance?

2. For the same reason, I don't oppose the "morning after" pill, or even RU-486. In my opinion, both are morally better than allowing life to develop further only to still be aborted. Although potential life is just a few cells on day one, soon after it is recognizably human, with feelings that deserve at least as much protection as PETA would offer animals, and death penalty opponents would offer mass murderers.

3. In my view, abortion should be as former President Clinton once said "safe, legal, and rare." I remember the years before abortion was legalized, when rich women flew to England, and poor women used coat hangers. Although I consider most abortions immoral, I can't bring myself to favor making them all illegal.

4. On the other side, I can't imagine how any moral person can support a form of abortion that intentionally murders an almost-fully-developed infant, merely to ensure the child doesn't enter the world alive. Who can comfortably face God after doing such a thing?

5. Also on the other side, I very strongly favor adoption over abortion I've known several wonderful couples desperate for a child, and seen literally how far around the world they've had to go to find a child to adopt, at the same time millions of potential lives are snuffed out needlessly here in the U.S.

6. I've also seen the emotional scars an abortion leaves on those involved, and wonder in light of that how anyone can oppose a pause to think, and to consult loved ones and multiple counselors before taking such a drastic step, especially when the mother-to-be is underage or married.

7. An unborn child now has its first official right, in that its death or injury by violence against the mother is now a separate crime. An excellent article in MIT's "The Tech" today correctly points out that as a result we now "simultaneously recognize the unborn child as a person and as property." If it makes you uneasy to think of persons as property, well -- IT SHOULD! Read the whole thing here.

8. San Franscisco-based U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled June 1, 2004 that "a woman's right to have an abortion is paramount, and that it's 'irrelevant' whether the unborn child suffers pain in the process." That incredibly-callous comment harkens back to the very first entry to my former blog, which included this Mallard Fillmore comic quote:
"You should probably vote Democratic if:
You think trees have feelings, and unborn babies don't
."

9. Freakonomics credits abortion with reducing crime, by preventing children from being born into an "adverse family environment. Seems to me that argument applies to birth control in general, rather than only to abortion as a specific method of birth control.

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