Beyond Roe: Progress on abortion

by Beacon Staff • October 3, 2007

The abortion factions have named themselves in the affirmative: "pro-life" and "pro-choice.,Of the many political issues obfuscated by language, the lexicon of the abortion debate is the most obfuscating of all. "If thought corrupts language," George Orwell wrote, "language can also corrupt thought." This is where the abortion issue has arrived.

The abortion factions have named themselves in the affirmative: "pro-life" and "pro-choice." The use of "anti" is avoided, lest people think proponents are negative or spiteful, or that they have no new ideas of their own. Yet this misuse of language has borne a gridlocked debate that is "anti" in every way: anti-progress, anti-collaboration and anti-common sense.

The absolution of pro-lifers and pro-choicers has turned discussion of abortion into a shouting match that accomplishes nothing and constantly moves in place. An obvious, common goal has been ignored: the reduction of the number of legal abortions (over 40 million of which have been carried out since 1973) not through overturning Roe v. Wade, but by creating a social environment in which women will freely choose to have their children.

This life-versus-choice dichotomy is a major litmus test for the two major political parties, which reject those who fall on the wrong side of the choice/life divide. As a result, the decision-making of politicians has been sabotaged, as they now focus on appeasing abortion-crazed constituents and lobbyists instead of viewing each piece of legislation independently.

In 2004, "Laci and Conner's Law" established the harm of an unborn child as a separate crime from assaulting a pregnant mother. Thirty-eight senators, including presidential candidates Joe Biden, Hilary Clinton, John Edwards and Chris Dodd voted against it.

The senators, displaying the infallible judgment for which they were elected, decided to deny the obvious: an unborn fetus is alive, and ergo, life. And the abortion lobby was pleased.

It is puzzling that bleeding heart liberals come down on this side of the issue. If abortion is not the death of a fetus, what is it?

In 2005, the newly pro-life Mitt Romney, then governor of Massachusetts, vetoed a bill that would have made emergency contraceptive pills more accessible to women, including rape victims staying in hospitals. Romney, in explaining the veto, said he is a "pro-life governor." Mitt must have been confounded-the bill was about contraceptives.

When Republicans-the "pro-life" base-discuss guns, the right to bear arms is the foremost topic, and concern for "life" is absent. In 1998, Republican senators Sam Brownback and Fred Thompson voted against an amendment to a bill that would have required manufacturers to affix trigger locks on handguns. Yet for their "pro-life" voting records they are praised.

According to the Children's Defense Fund and National Center for Health Statistics, gunfire killed 90,000 American children and teens from 1979-2001. Conservatives don't call this killing of innocents "genocide."

It is not possible for abortion to simply-poof-disappear. Besides, it isn't as if conservatives are on the cusp of overthrowing Roe. Even with President Bush's appointments of historically right-wing judges John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, years of precedent-setting decisions bolster the case and act to keep it in place.

A decision as monumental as Roe is not easily reversed, and with time running out on Bush's control of the Presidency, it should stand for a long time yet.

Prohibition made it clear that an absolute ban on any privelege does not work in America. If abortion were outlawed, a crime apparatus similar to that seen during Prohibition would take form, merely redirecting panicked mothers-not-to-be from Planned Parenthood to back-alley abortionists. The World Health Organization estimates that 20 million of the 46 million annual worldwide abortions are performed illegally under unsafe conditions.

In order to end abortion, attention must be paid to those who have them. The Guttmacher Institute found that 52 percent of U.S. women who receive abortions are under 25, and 64 percent have never been married. Hispanic women are twice as likely to have an abortion as white women, while black women are more than 3 times as likely.

Securing the safety of urban areas, properly funding public schools, toughening penalties against deadbeat, alimony-skipping dads and guaranteeing health care coverage for children-which Bush vetoed Wednesday-would better a child's world and could influence parents in deciding against abortion.

If only the two sides could begin come together on that, perhaps the abortion debate would become anti-unsolved.