Abortion fight is futile

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Few things in America consume as much time and energy and are as futile as the fight over abortion. The process is fatiguing and illustrates how two groups are willing to spend vast resources talking at each other, with apparent little regard for a practical solution.

I am not a proponent of abortion and believe it is wrong in most cases. Still, I have to recognize that many others do not share my point of view and hoping they will come around to my way of thinking is a profound waste of time.

The anti-abortion group thinks it can legislate morality, but legislating morality only works when everybody agrees on the moral question. Think of it this way. What’s the difference between snuffing out the life of a 21-year old and terminating a fetus at, say, four months? Answer: everybody believes the former is immoral; America is divided on the latter.

Neither side in the abortion battle is able to galvanize a majority, and when anti-abortion groups are able to get legislation passed that limits access to abortion, courts step in to protect the rights of pregnant women. The fight continues with no hope of resolution, so much so there is now talk about shutting down the federal government over the funding of Planned Parenthood.

Columnist Lane Filler wrote a thoughtful piece about how intractable each side is and illustrated the moral dichotomy of abortion by telling the story of a friend, a woman who is a physician at an inner-city hospital. “I look at some of my patients who are pregnant and poor or quite young or both, and I know that for them to have a baby would be a disaster. And often I know they are pregnant because they’ve been irresponsible. As their doctor, I believe abortion has to be available, because giving birth to these babies would devastate their lives . . . but I also know that it’s murder.”

Each side wants what it wants and wants it without compromise, which means only more years of divisive talk and no progress for either. Each side talks without hearing the other and without thinking about the woman who are affected.

Sometimes, you have to distinguish between one’s own morality and what will work for society as a whole. It would be easier to jump across the Grand Canyon than to convince one side to join the other. Society would be better served by searching for some common ground.

What would happen if the anti-abortion group put aside its moral imperative, and the pro-abortion side decided to accept certain limitations? Is it possible to pass a law that is equally distasteful to both groups and that can withstand court scrutiny?

If such a law were passed, then what? Those who oppose abortion would still be free to preach the immorality of abortion.

I think Filler has it right. “While many can’t hear the other side’s screaming in the abortion fight, most on both sides and in the middle can hear this: You stop abortion by dedicating enough public and private funds to free and easily accessible long-term contraception, which will cut unplanned pregnancy dramatically.”

We have seen some significant shifts in America in just the last 20 years or so. Several states have repealed the death penalty. Gays are now afforded the same rights as is everyone else. But abortion? There are no signs abortion attitudes are changing, and if those attitudes are unlikely to change, then both sides need to think about what is best for society overall.


Jack D’Aurora writes for


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  1. Carl Heltzel  September 22, 2015

    “Think of it this way. What’s the difference between snuffing out the life of a 21-year old and terminating a fetus at, say, four months? Answer: everybody believes the former is immoral; America is divided on the latter.” {Actually not true. Those states that support capital punishment do not believe the formal is immoral as they are willing to snuff out a life under circumstances where the condemned individual has demonstrated an unwillingness to contribute to the common good yet find the latter is immoral because they have yet been given the opportunity to prove their worth to the common good.

    There is hope for change. There is no time limit, no logic, no demonstration of superior intellect that is required in this effort, only a desire not to give up. While some may believe there is no hope for resolution between opposing parties, it is fact that determination of either side determines the victor. The courts are not of infallible in and manner, as the judgment of our jurist have been shown time and time again to be wrong.

    Although we might not like the result, stories of present time hold little credibility in issues of morality, unless one chooses to be a situational moralist, which upon acceptance requires one to believe in anarchy. That said, the reference to the journalist Lane Fuller refers to the Dr. who for different considerations knows the birth of a baby will devastate their lives, which brings me to the question, does the Dr. refer to the Mother’s life being devastated or the child’s life being devastated? If it is the former over the latter, then we are willing dismiss the promise afforded the unborn child and we should feel no remorse is dismissing the troubled life of the poor, disadvantaged, disabled, mentally ill, prejudiced, or discriminated for they certainly had some advantage over the unborn child if it is only to be born.

    It may not be apparent given the previous comments that I do agree with the closing discussion in this respect. The real answer is to make abortion unnecessary. While the strictest of the strict might find the use of a condemn as immoral, it is certainly less immoral then aborting the consequence of not using a condemn. Intense efforts towards adoption, and more importantly teaching all about the importance of respect towards each other, respect for human life, acceptance of the consequence of actions and an understanding that despite the laws of the land procreation is not a right, it is a privilege with consequences. The first is acceptance of the responsibility that comes along with all possible consequences.

    The issue of abortion in the hearts and minds of the American public is not about reaching into pockets for more dollars or changing schedules to support non-abortive solutions for unwanted children. It is about the character of the United States of America. Our battles are fought, they are fought with ugly consequences, fierce divisions and terrible consequences that may last a generation or more, but they will not last forever.

    Like many dilemmas, what is best for society is decided over time and with process. It is not a decision of individuals deeming what is best for society as a whole but instead what is best for the individual, with best consideration given to those without a voice. In our land, what is best for society overall is what is best for the individual, including the unborn individual. How ironic that the last paragraph in support of the writers observations notes that in the last twenty years societies has changed to capital punishment laws that support life, change the definition of marriage that allows for the impossibility of creating life (so far), and suggests some form of accommodation that allows for the termination of at least, the potential for life, in all of its unglamorous, ugly, frightening, fearful considerations.

    I would rue that day that my mother or father might consider that I was “inconvenient” regardless of the many times that I afforded them the events necessary to draw the same conclusion.

  2. Matt Schaeffer  September 23, 2015

    “I look at some of my patients who are pregnant and poor or quite young or both, and I know that for them to have a baby would be a disaster. . . . As their doctor, I believe abortion has to be available . . . but I also know that it’s murder.” In asserting that “murder” is justifiable when the victim might “be a disaster” to the financial wherewithal of the victim’s mother and father, this doctor is reducing a human being to a dollar value.

    Moral questions are futile only if one does not aspire to take moral action. We can do better. Rather than looking the other way and allowing a million “murders” every year, we should create a society where pregnant, poor, young women and their babies are cared for, and where mothers and their children are celebrated as blessings.

  3. Kevin Vereide  September 23, 2015

    Your comments elevating the need for “practical solutions” is appreciated and worth serious consideration. However, I am concerned with your quote from the Lane Filler piece: “I believe abortion has to be available, because giving birth to these babies would devastate their lives….but I also know that it’s murder”. In this quote there is no debate on whether abortion is murder. There is an acknowledgment that abortion is murder but a belief that murder is justified to avoid devastating someone’s life. Is avoiding devastating one’s life a justification for murder? When we begn to justify murder for similar concerns I think we are heading down a dangerous road.

    •  September 23, 2015

      Yours is a good point, and I agree with you. Still, the problem is, so many other Americans don’t see it your way. How do we handle the impasse?

  4. Bruce Lackey  September 23, 2015

    The best laws seem to be the ones that equally disappoint the extreme visits on the opposite sides of the issue. It is far past time for someone to lead the nation towards a compromise on abortion and then redirect the energy and funding towards reducing the need for abortion. This is a failure of leadership on the national level.

    • Celia Runkle  September 23, 2015

      The abortion rate is at all time lows. While they continue to gut funding for access to birth control. Access to healthcare is the best chance. Republicans are bent on taking it all away thinking the problem will go away. It will explode because of it.

  5. miriam  September 24, 2015

    “Few things in America consume as much time and energy and are as futile as the fight over abortion”. I would have to say that we have spent a lot of time in this country battling for gay rights for many years and many thought it was futile a long time ago. Because they have persevered, they have equal rights. This group only represents about 3% of our country. Don’t you think that protecting the life of the unborn deserves that much attention and probably more? Snuffing out a 21 year old or aborting a 4 month fetus should not only be morally wrong but illegal. No one should have the right to take a life in any circumstance. As the inner city doctor claims,abortion is considered “murder”.

    You infer that legislating morality is the exception instead of the rule when in fact the opposite is true. We are a nation of laws based on morality, from prostitution to gambling, to drug use, to age restriction on video use, to voting rights. Even the Supreme Court legislated from the bench when it legalizes abortion in 1973. It moralized from the bench opining that shredding a 7 month old baby was acceptable

    It is sad commentary for the doctor to describe a pregnancy as a disaster because it is inconvenient for the young impoverished to have a baby. There are plenty of not for profit agencies with and without church affiliations that will help fund a pregnancy and encourage and help place the baby into an adoption agency . Those that face an unwanted pregnancy have choices other than abortion. Choosing life should never be devastating I also like to point out that the doctor is consumed over the welfare of the mother but what about the welfare of the infant? Why aren’t the liberals fighting for the social justice of the unborn?

    Society would be better served by searching for some common ground? What does that look like? You either are for life, which now science confirms starts at conception, or you are for death.

    The pro life movement fights for the rights of the unborn while the pro abortionists fight for the rights of the woman and the billion dollar industry that is tied into it. I believe that a society that chooses life will reap many more benefits than choosing death. The fight may be tiresome for those who can’t or won’t appreciate what is at stake. In my opinion, it is NEVER a futile battle.

    •  October 6, 2015

      I agree with everything you say.The problem is, much of America disagrees with you on the morality of abortion, and for that reason, a giant chasm exists. I think advocating for an end to abortion is holy work, but I don’t have your tolerance for the never ending battle that is being fought.

  6. miriam rafferty  October 8, 2015

    Over half of this nation does not believe in abortion. The article below sums up the negative effects on our society since Roe vs. Wade. I think the pro life movement needs to hang in there.


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