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 considerthisbyjd.com
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