William Saletan has a basic problem when he begins to discuss prolife vs. abortion: while he’s not pro-abortion, he’s not anti-abortion, either. I’m glad that he’s trying and take it as a major victory that Democrats and pro-choicers will even discuss limiting abortion in the public square at all.
I’m afraid that it’s difficult for men and women who consider themselves “moderate” when it comes to abortion to understand that the rest of us actually consider life to begin at the biological marker of fertilization. We won’t accept the loss of an early pregnancy before implantation that is caused by our intentional actions.
Mr. Saletan would do better to stress the evidence against loss of pregnancy due to the morning after pill and some other contraception, rather than say that what he considers an acceptable risk of early embryo loss will cut interventional and intentional surgical and medical abortions.
On the other hand, I come from a tradition that is accepting of contraception that prevents conception in the first place, including barrier methods, the true contraceptive medications and sterilization. We expect couples to only have sex within marriage (and, I’ll admit, when they’ve convinced themselves that they expect to marry). We also expect them to welcome any pregnancy that occurs – whether planned or unplanned. I know lots of good couples who live this way in the Baptist, Church of Christ, Methodist and other non-Catholic traditions. And lots of born people who started life this way. (Some of those groups don’t consider themselves to be “Protestant” or “Evangelical.” I grew up hearing that the Baptists – or ana-Baptists – were always around, and so they never broke away from the Catholics, at all. But, that’s another blog.)
Mr. Saletan does point out a problem that my parents ran into back before Roe v. Wade and that we’ve had ever since: how to get prolife activists to work well together. Conversations on ending abortion tend to break down when our own groups divide over true contraception and when and where abortion will be regulated.
I’m a lumper from the school of “if he’s not against us, he’s for us,” “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” or even the “even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” My motto: look for the common ground.
I’ll never forget the email that I received after South Dakota bravely banned abortion on demand. Rather than celebrating the law against 99.7% of all elective abortions, at least one group was condemning them, claiming that South Dakota had passed legislation allowing abortion in the case of rape and incest (which I believe would be much more easily addressed as a “hearts and minds” issue.)
And I fully expect to be told that I’m not really prolife after this essay.
(Edited 10-01-06 for spelling of “really.”)