Crossing the Divide #2: Alleviating the Need for Abortion?

Squeezed January 22, 2007

I think it was Bill Clinton who said that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” And Mrs. Clinton goes even further (quoted by William Saletan in Slate, emphasis his):

Abortion is “a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women,” said Clinton. Then she went further: “There is no reason why government cannot do more to educate and inform and provide assistance so that the choice guaranteed under our constitution either does not ever have to be exercised or only in very rare circumstances.”

Does not ever have to be exercised. I searched Google and Nexis for parts of that sentence tonight and got no hits. Is the press corps asleep? Hillary Clinton just endorsed a goal I’ve never heard a pro-choice leader endorse. Not safe, legal, and rare. Safe, legal, and never.

Once you embrace that truth—that the ideal number of abortions is zero—voters open their ears. … Once we agree that the goal is zero, we can stop asking which party yaps more about fighting abortion and start asking which party gets results.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the answer to the abortion question may lie not in strangling the supply, but in drying up the demand. An elective abortion, by definition, terminates an unwanted pregnancy. It stands to reason that if you reduce the unwanted pregnancies, the abortion problem goes away too.

As reported by Julie Rovner on NPR’s Morning Edition (listen), some moderate members of Congress have put forth compromise bills. For instance, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) has introduced a bill calling for more money for pregnancy prevention and incentives for carrying babies to term. However, their bills have been met with skepticism from both the far left and far right.

It’s been 34 years since Roe v. Wade, and the country has been divided ever since. It’s really hard to find any sort of common ground on abortion, because you’ll either be accused of being anti-freedom or a supporter of murder. Perhaps one day rhetoric will be set aside in favor of results, and one day abortion will be unheard of. I’m not holding my breath, though.

2 Responses to “Crossing the Divide #2: Alleviating the Need for Abortion?”

  1. Jere Krischel Says:

    I think the problem you have here, Keith, is that reducing the need for abortion leads to another argument – contraception or abstinence.

    It is an interesting question though – if one had to choose between one’s convictions on abortion, or one’s convictions regarding abstinence/contraception, what would the choice be?

  2. Keith Says:

    That is a good question, and I think it’s Catholics in particular who will have to grapple with it, where their religion is vocally against both abortion and contraception. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for abstinence and teaching kids and teens about the consequences of putting “tab P” into “slot V” indiscriminately. And I’m well aware that making teens aware of the existence of condoms, the pill, etc. may make them think they can bump and grind all they want without consequence, when that’s not the case.

    But I’m a realist. Hormones are powerful stuff. I think we should arm our kids with the tools necessary whether it’s abstinence-based ed or contraception or both (in my mind they’re not mutually exclusive).

    The best way to prevent destroying a life is not to create it in the first place.

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