Abortions for Some, Miniature American Flags for Others

Is there some way I can buy Barack Obama a beer? I feel like I need to reward him for his answer to the abortion question at the last debate, and it’s not like I can throw him another vote.

This is an issue that—look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to—to reconcile the two views. But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, “We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.” Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that’s where we can find some common ground, because nobody’s pro-abortion. I think it’s always a tragic situation. We should try to reduce these circumstances.

It’s hard to understate how happy these sentences made me. This is the only time in my life I’ve ever heard any politician, pro-life or pro-choice, say something productive about the abortion debate. Obama echoed a lot of stuff that’s been on my mind for years. Specifically, he acknowledged that the only way to make any progress in the debate is to find common ground.

The fundamental problem with the debate over abortion is how both sides have framed their arguments since Roe v. Wade. You’re either for life and against women’s rights, or for women’s rights and against life. What the hell kind of choice is that? Neither side acknowledges that other side is fundamentally concerned with something completely different. You can even hear that in the names the two movements picked for each other. I have to bite my tongue everytime I hear anyone use grating phrases like “anti-choice” or “pro-abortion.” Those sayings represent willful ignorance of the other side’s position. It frames the argument in an “us vs. them” mentality that helps no one, least of all pregnant women and their unborn.

So what’s the solution? Common ground, of course. Both sides need to get together and agree that less abortions is a good thing, regardless of their stance on the morality of the issue. The more we decrease unintentional pregnancies (education and birth control, birth control, birth control), the less anyone needs to even consider abortion. Common ground and common freakin’ sense. It’s something I’ve been saying forever and it’s so refreshing to hear a politician say it.

Barack, (since Blurred Productions is, of course, one of the first things you check every morning) I owe you one beer of your choosing at any bar, any time you want it. Hopefully you’ll be too busy over the next four (or eight) years to redeem it.


5 Comments on “Abortions for Some, Miniature American Flags for Others”

  1. Actually you can give him a second vote… but contributing to ACORN, of course.

    In all seriousness I have some thoughts about abortion and a response to this but I have to take awhile to think about it.

  2. Ok. What I wanted to say earlier is that on the national level there is very little room for abortion “moderation”. I too am all for reducing the number of abortions – making so that women did not find themselves in the situation where they need an abortion (i.e. more birth control availability, etc.).

    But there is a broader problem with this train of thought. Namely staking out a “moderate” position on abortion leads to trouble. Namely the weakening of Roe v. Wade. Pro-choice people are in a difficult – binary – position. Considering that anti-abortion advocates believe in a strong “NO” to Roe and its implications; every “Yes but…” answer on these questions from pro-choicers gives political space for anti-abortion people to maneuver and undermine Roe.

    What “moderation” in Roe related issues has given us is a fucked up abortion regime in the US; in that abortions are only really available to the middle-class/wealthy – mostly white, urban, coastal women. In broad parts of the US(what Palin would say is the “Real America”) there is a de facto ban on abortion.

    What I am trying to say there is that what moderate pro-choicers need to do is fight for the broadest possible right to an abortion. But also work to make sure that its a right that women don’t need to exercise (because they didn’t have an unplanned pregnancy in the first place).

  3. Tito says:

    Thoughtful response and worth the wait.

    I think the binary nature of the debate is more worrisome than the fear of using moderation as political leverage. Admittedly, it might be an intrinsically divisive issue, but I think it is possible to resist some of that. I worry that things done for the sake of consistency might have a damaging “them or us” mentality attached to it. This hurts the Democrats more than the Republicans, as you can see people like Palin actively fanning those divisive flames with that “Real America” bullshit.

    A better example: I have some family members who feel that abortion supersedes all other issues. I have little doubt that they would vote Democratic if this were not an issue, but they feel morally obligated to keep voting for the comparatively pro-life party. I’m sick of the Republican party dangling the pro-life carrot in front of voters’ faces, tricking them into thinking it’s a high-priority issue when the most any Republican will do is help create a messed-up, inconsistent system (like McCain’s “let the states decide”) like you were complaining about. The Democrats need to extend an olive branch, or at least somehow get voters to realize that having a Republican White House and/or Congress does little to nothing to reduce the overall numbers.

    On last point: as inconsistent as the system is, it’s not terribly surprising. That seems fairly typical for sticky morality vs. governmental involvement issues (i.e. the death penalty).

  4. Briefly:

    What I’m arguing for is not so much consistency as a track that takes into consideration objections to abortion, tries to limit abortions, but also allows the broadest possible right to an abortion. If that makes any sense.

    On your last point: theoretically abortion should not be left to the states. Unlike the death penalty, supposedly Roe guaranteed a national right to an abortion while the Supreme Court has mostly left the death penalty to the states (with some restrictions, of course). Of course, the court has undermined itself for the various reason I outlined above.

    At least in my opinion.

  5. Tito says:

    I think my last post kind of got off track from actually responding to your comment and went into my own side points. But yeah, I think I follow you.

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