Common Ground-is it feasible?


A recent article in The Wall Street Journal highlighted Obama’s plan to depolarize the issue of abortion. To make new, sustainable legislation and policy on the legal issues surrounding abortion, he has brought together leaders in both the pro-choice and anti-choice movements to work together to find common ground between the divided groups.

This move goes without saying that Obama is following through on his promise to “reach across the aisle,” especially when it comes to issues that divide most Democrats and Republicans. However, this is no small feat. For decades, these two groups have found very little in common with, perhaps, the exception that both groups want to see a decline in the rate of abortion.

To find this common ground, I believe certain components must be included:

(1) Abstinence-only education must be off the table. Continuing to promote a failed curriculum that purposefully eliminates factual information about birth control is dangerous and does an extreme disservice to our youth. Studies funded by the federal government and independent agencies have also shown that these programs simply don’t work. If anti-choicers want to decrease abortion rates, teaching abstinence through fear and misinformation is not the solution. Abstinence should absolutely be taught, but as part of a multi-dimensional comprehensive sexual health education.

(2) Abortion must remain legal. Criminalizing abortion does not decrease rates, but does increase botched abortions, maternal mortality and morbidity. Just look at the trends in Mexico. Making abortion illegal in the U.S. will most definitely not eliminate or decrease the rates of abortion.

(3) And here is the hardest one: Anti-choicers must attempt to understand why women seek abortions in the first place. The quote below is telling of how far we have to go before we can meet in the middle:

Participants said that abortion opponents tended to focus on efforts to help pregnant women keep their babies, while the abortion-rights camp focused on preventing unwanted pregnancy.

The truth is not all women want to “keep their babies.” Increasing services to help women continue an unwanted pregnancy will not solve our unintended pregnancy rates. Funding crisis pregnancy centers, like the Bush administration did, is continuing a cycle of misinformation and false promises.

I am obviously biased on the topic, but I feel the pro-choice movement is willing to meet in the middle, and on some level, is already there. If any move needs to be made, it’s with the anti-choice groups. Pushing abstinence only and criminalizing abortion is an antiquated method and has been proven over and over again not to be effective. In essence, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t be against abortion and be against contraception as well.

Anti-choicers, modernize your movement and we will see you in the middle. Pro-choicers, realize that there are anti-choicers out there that want change and are willing to work with you for it. Keep an open mind and engage in respectful discussions. David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta and an anti-choicer, described the meetings as valuable, stating "when people get into a room working on a common problem it’s harder to demonize them when they leave the room."

This is absolutely a step in the right direction. We can work together to decrease the abortion rates. Remember, pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion, we all want to decrease the rates of abortion in this country. Now is the time to work together because continuing to work against each other is not conducive to change and progress.

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  • invalid-0

    Asking pro-lifers to keep abortion legal isn’t really having common ground with them. How is it different from asking them to stop being pro-life and just be pro-choice from now on?

  • megan-evans

    Thanks for your comment Derek.

     

    My question is do all anti-choicers want abortion to be illegal?  I would argue no.  People may be apposed to abortion, will never get one, support candidates that are anti-choice, but not all anti-choicers think it is best for roe v. wade to be overturned.  I realize keeping abortion legal isn’t a popular idea for some who identify as anti-choice.  But in my personal opinion, keeping it legal, focusing on preventing unintended pregnancies with comprehensive sex ed, and improving access to contraception will decrease abortion rates as a whole.

     

    If abortion should be illegal or were to become illegal, what thoughts do you have on how to decrease abortion rates in this country? 

  • invalid-0

    I think DerekP brought up a good point. It seems like the true middle ground is decreasing unwanted pregnancies. Could pro-choicers sit down with anti-choicers and talk about realistic ways to decrease unwanted pregnancies without getting into the legality of abortion? It seems from your post that you think pro-choicers should not, but wouldn’t that be a good way to get everyone in the room and build understanding?

  • megan-evans

    Thanks Anon for your post.

     

    I absolutely agree with you that the middle ground is finding a way to decrease unwanted pregnancies on both side of the aisle.  That is the purpose of this gathering discussed in The Wall Street Journal.  Sorry if that wasn’t clear in my post. 

     

    In my opinion, to do this, the anti-choice side must consider the three things I posted.  Because I believe that if the anti-choice side continues to support abstinence only education, demonize abortion, and restrict its access, we will (1) never find common ground and (2) potentially increase the unwanted pregnancy rate with these tactics.  Fortunately, Obama is pro-choice and has already begun to reverse the damage done by the Bush administration. 

     

    I absolutely think that pro-choicers and anti-choicers could have a frank, respectful discussion of how to decrease unwanted pregnancies, and it could potentially happen without getting into the polarizing discussion of abortion.  I do believe, however, that it must be the anti-choice side to change their tactics and approach to these issues. 

     

    Both sides need to "widen the circle" and try to include all groups to work together to decrease these high rates of unintended pregnancies.  I believe solid legislation and grassroots movements from the pro-choice side can really do incredible work to help decrease the rates over time, but we could make profound changes if we ALL work together and find this common ground.   

     

    I hope that is clear. 

  • progo35

    I’m all for working together to reduce unwanted pregnancies, but if the reaction of some that Marysia, I and some other pro lifers here who have tried to find common ground is any indication, I’d say that there’s a lot of bad blood in the way.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    The problem in finding common ground to reducing abortion rates, which comes up a lot on this blog, is the reason why we should reduce the abortion rate in the first place.

    Pro-choice people usually want to reduce abortion rates because it is an invasive, costly surgery that can be prevented with contraception. Typically they, along with some pro-lifers, support family planning measures (contraception, NFP, abstinence, etc.) that can effectively decrease the rates of unplanned pregnancies and subsequent abortions that would follow. This isn’t a bad way to reduce abortions, but it isn’t the only way.

    But for pro-lifers, and many Americans in the middle of the two camps, the reason why we should reduce abortions is different. Pro-lifers believe abortion kills a developing human being who has the same value and should have the same rights you and I have. Or essentially, they believe abortion is legal murder. For those who believe this, there are other ways they could reduce abortions:


    1. Encourage women who have unplanned pregnancies to keep their babies and provide them resources to do this.
    Pro-choicers would probably gladly support giving resources to women who choose to have children, but they would balk at any attempt to say one choice is morally better than another.


    2. Educate the populace that abortion is the killing of a human being so that men and women do not choose to have an abortion.
    Most pro-choicers would oppose “stigmatizing” the choice to have an abortion and not support this approach. Of course, one has to wonder if it is pro-lifers who stigmatize abortion or the facts of abortion itself that stigmatize the procedure. (Read the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act Case Gonzales v Carhart to see what I mean.)


    3. Stopping public funding of abortion will reduce abortion rates.
    Of course that means women who would otherwise choose to have an abortion may not be able to have one, which could be seen as an obstacle to choice for pro-choice advocates.

    As you can see there are many ways to reduce abortion, but only a few (basically contraception) that can be endorsed if you are “authentically pro-choice.” It would be nice to have a real dialog about abortion reduction on this or another site with a wide variety of views expressed. Maybe one day . . .

  • invalid-0

    Encourage women who have unplanned pregnancies to keep their babies and provide them resources to do this.

    There’s a fine line between “encouragement” and “pressure.” But if it’s really and truly the latter, then sure. Of course, this support should be available not just to pregnant women, but to all mothers and mothers-to-be, so that they can raise strong and healthy children to form the backbone of society’s future. The problem, however, is that whenever we try to do this, people start throwing words like “socialism” and “welfare queen” around.

    Educate the populace that abortion is the killing of a human being so that men and women do not choose to have an abortion.

    Point the first: Secular entities (like the government) do not endorse a position on the (non)existence of God, and neither should they do so on this point of faith. Point the second: Until men can become pregnant, it’s the woman who chooses whether or not to have an abortion. She can take input from the menfolk if she likes, but at the end of the day, it’s her call, and hers alone.

    Of course, one has to wonder if it is pro-lifers who stigmatize abortion or the facts of abortion itself that stigmatize the procedure. (Read the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act Case Gonzales v Carhart to see what I mean.)

    If the personal distaste of a layperson were a valid reason to prohibit a medical procedure, then autopsies would be a felony.

    Stopping public funding of abortion will reduce abortion rates.

    No, because rich women will still be able to get theirs, and poor women will just resort to the back alley. Cheap and life-threatening is often seen as a better option than none at all.

    As you can see there are many ways to reduce abortion, but only a few (basically contraception) that can be endorsed if you are “authentically pro-choice.” It would be nice to have a real dialog about abortion reduction on this or another site with a wide variety of views expressed. Maybe one day . . .

    This dialog has come and gone, and the conclusion is always the same: an “abortion reduction” focus makes as much sense as a “heart surgery reduction” focus, in that it completely ignores the reason that people get the procedure in the first place.

  • invalid-0

    There’s a fine line between “encouragement” and “pressure.” But if it’s really and truly the latter

    FORMER! Former. Damn.

  • invalid-0

    Respect is key in any discussion with opposing viewpoints. Might I suggest that the term which is preferred by those who oppose abortion is “pro-life” not a negative term like “anti-choice”. I would argue that this is a misnomer as people who are pro-life support many choices, but abortion is not one of them. I look forward to future discussions about this topic with those with opposing viewpoints but it must begin with mutual respect and understanding for the opposing side. I think both can learn something this way.
    Amy

  • invalid-0

    David Gushee, who you cite, has been working really hard (along with other evangelicals of a similar ilk– Joel Hunter, Richard Cizik, etc.) to find real ways to reduce the number of abortions (something we can all surely agree on!). David Gushee and Joel Hunter were both part of the Come Let us Reason Together project– a common-ground seeking venture– and have both endorsed contraception and comprehensive sex ed, even while they think abortion is a moral wrong. (http://thirdway.org/clurt) Big progress is being made here!

    I also think it’s important to allow for two different planks in the common ground conversation– prevention and support. Obviously, preventing unintended pregnancies is critical here, and any anti-choicer who refuses to allow for contraception is obstructing common ground. But supporting pregnant women is also important. Support does not, by any means, mean coercing women into carrying a pregnancy to term if she doesn’t want to. But can’t we all agree that we should support women who do wish to carry to term, but who are considering abortion for fear that she doesn’t have the resources necessary to raise a child? Relatively well-to-do women who unintentionally get pregnant may see it as a blessing, and can carry the pregnancy to term without fears of hunger, poverty, and the link. Low-income women, when faced with an unintended pregnancy, may feel like their only option is to abort. Even while we support to protected legal right to an abortion, shouldn’t we work for a culture of reproductive justice where women are just as free to abort as they are to carry to term?

  • megan-evans

    Hey Amy,

     

    So I don’t believe that calling ‘pro-lifers’ ‘anti-choicers’ is disrepectful.  I actually find the "pro-life" term ridiculous and often never use it. 

     

    I am someone who identifies as pro-choice for abortion, and there are those who identify as anti-choice for abortion.  Thus the terms I use.  The term pro-life suggests that abortion rights activists are pro-death, which in my opinion, is ridiculous.  So I don’t use that term. 

     

    By all means, use the terms that you are most comfortable with, but I will not continue to use "pro-life." 

  • megan-evans

    Hey Kristin,

     

    Thanks for sharing about David Gushee’s work. That sounds like awesome and really amazing work.  I’m so glad to hear so much progress is being made.

     

    And I definitely agree with you.  I do feel there is a lot of support for pregnant women-often women can easily get healthcare while pregnant as well as many other services.  But what happens when that baby enters the world?  No healthcare for mom anymore!  And no guarantees for that child…for healthcare, education, safety, etc.  It’s that whole concept of Love the fetus, hate the child.  We absolutely need to put more resources into creating an environment where a wanted child can enter this world with basic (and rightful) needs. 

  • progo35

    I feel that the term "anti choice" is a deliberately negative label to bolster a particular view of pro life people as medieval and autocratic in their worldview. It’s, like pro life people calling people who are pro choice "pro death." In order to have a prodcutive discussion, each side should afford the other the respect of using the term that the other side uses to describe itself. 

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • invalid-0

      I feel that the term “anti choice” is a deliberately negative label to bolster a particular view of pro life people as medieval and autocratic in their worldview.”

      Well, that about sums up the forced-gestation mindset. You want to take away women’s rights to their very own bodies, make their health and medical decision for them. Hate to break it to ya, sweetie, but that is the very embodiment of autocratic paternalism.

      In order to have a prodcutive [sic] discussion, each side should afford the other the respect of using the term that the other side uses to describe itself.

      What on earth makes you think that I respect or want to find common ground with people who think they have any sort of right to dictate my health and medical decisions? Women’s bodies are not community property and anyone who believes otherwise, as forced-birthers do, is a misogynist. I do not respect racists, homophobes and other bigots, so why would I extend any sort of respect to misogynists?

      I prefer “forced-birther” or “forced-gestation proponent” or “pro-life-until-birther” or “pro-fetal-lifer” because they are far more accurate terms.

  • colleen

    So Derek,

    I notice several major points missing from your bullet points but, for me anyway, the one that always  stands out, because ‘pro-life’ men or women never mention it is male responsibility for unwanted pregnancies. I understand that sitting in judgement over women is lots more fun than trying to do anything constructive or useful but if you guys took some precautions or, even better, kept your pants zipped more often or actually took responsibility for the children you father there would be many fewer unwanted pregnancies and, thus, abortions. Mind you I get it that slut slamming and punishing women who have had abortions (which constitutes your sole mention of male responsibility or participation) is entertaining as hell and something you can do with your Christian buddies. But damn, Derek, how lame is that?

    One problem with the absurdly named ‘pro-life’ movement is that when issues of male responsibility are introduced  you all behave as if women (the sluts!) reproduced entirely through parthenogenesis. And yet a male is ALWAYS at least 50% responsible for each and every unwanted pregnancy/ Why is it that ‘pro-life’ folks never, ever mention this? Just think, you could revolutionize the entire abortion debate if you focused on controlling yourselves rather than women.

    Why not man up and "stigmatize" the majority of men who refuse to contribute to the support of the OOW children they have fathered?

     

  • progo35

     "for me anyway, the one that always  stands out, because ‘pro-life’ men
    or women never mention it is male responsibility for unwanted
    pregnancies"

    Colleen-that is absolutely, positively, one hundred percent not true. Pro life crisis pregnancy centers and organizatinos such as Feminists for life bend over backwards to point out the man’s responsibility for the pregnancy, as that is one of the things that has until recently been neglected by our culture. Pro lifers who take the approaches Dereck mentions aboslutely mention and promote the father’s responsibility. Even when this is brought up, you just poo poo it as not being of consequence because some women will want abortions anyone. But, at least do some real research on or acknowledge the truth of how pro life resources strive to promote paternal responsibility for the pregnancy.  

     

     

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    I can understand why “pro life” is a controversial term that people may hesitate to use, but if you really want to reach across the aisle you may want to consider that MANY people have problems with the “pro choice” label as well. Obviously, if someone has been raped she never had a choice and it might be an appropriate term for efforts to end a pregnancy which resulted from the rape. After all, she was raped, if she cannot get a morning after pill or abortion then she has never had a choice. But, if you choose to have sex and also choose not to bother with birth control then you have already made a series of choices before you ever got pregnant. And before everybody starts yelling “birth control is just too complicated to work” I beg to differ. If you’re not confident that your chosen method will work, use a back up plan. That is the way to exercise your choice.

    • http://bjsurvivor.livejournal.com/618.html#cutid1 invalid-0

      I’ve already covered why I have no interest in “reaching across the aisle” to forced-gestation proponents.

      Obviously, if someone has been raped she never had a choice and it might be an appropriate term for efforts to end a pregnancy which resulted from the rape…

      Again, you “progressive/feminist” forced-gestation proponents show your true colors. You are the exact same mainstream “pro-lifer” but with a sugary coating. It’s not about “saving babies” but about punishing women for being sexual beings or being unable to act as a man’s gatekeeper should they actually not really want to have sex but simply accede because they have been engrained with the idea that it isn’t acceptable for a woman to assert herself.

      But, if you choose to have sex and also choose not to bother with birth control then you have already made a series of choices before you ever got pregnant…

      I realize this is a difficult concept for you to grasp, but when a woman consents to sex, she is consenting to just that, sex. She is not consenting to pregnancy. No more than driving a car is consenting to get into a horrific auto accident and die rather than avail oneself of the emergency medical system.

      I’ve always had a back-up birth-control plan – abortion – should my contraception fail (or should I neglect to use it during a particular event). I now use a contraceptive whose real-world efficacy approaches that of sterilization (which is, unfortunately not 100%), the copper IUD . Again, should it fail, I will avail myself of the nearest abortion clinic, even if that happens to be in another country should abortion be banned in the United States. I will create children (or not) on my terms, not yours, you condescending shill.

      I like PIV sex and I will have it as often as I please with whomever I please. I bristle when anyone, especially total strangers, thinks it acceptable to pry into my (or anyone’s) personal business. Kindly, stop with the slut-shaming attempts, cmarie. It is exceedingly hateful and you need to stop it.

  • colleen

    My apologies for using imprecise language. I read the comments by ‘pro-life’ folks who post here and on a few other blogs closely. On this blog and even in threads supposedly devoted to finding ‘common ground’ solutions or discussing our outrageously high rate of teen pregnancies (by ‘our’ I mean the US) the ‘pro-life’ folks seldom mention that a man is even involved, much less responsible for unwanted pregnancies. On those rare occasions when the fact that humans don’t reproduce via parthenogenesis is alluded to half the time only the supposed rights of the male are the sole topic.and even then a maximum of one or two sentences is the sole reference. It’s quite startling. 

    I mention this to Derek here because in his bullet pointed attempt to find ‘common ground’ any mention of male responsibility for lowering the number of abortions (and not the number of unwanted pregnancies) is limited to mention of the responsibility of males to not seek an abortion (which is silly) and to ‘stigmatize’ women who do.

     

    Even when this is brought up, you just poo poo it as not being of consequence because some women will want abortions anyone

     Are you drinking alot or just decompensating?  I hope you’re feeling better soon.

     

    But, at least do some real research on or acknowledge the truth of how
    pro life resources strive to promote paternal responsibility for the
    pregnancy.  

    Like I said, I don’t see you folks doing that here at all. Ever.

    Indeed you’re obviously openly hostile to the very notion of discussing male responsibility and dissove in characteristic, barely articulate ad hominem attacks while Derek remains silent. Seeing as the last time the republicans were in power they cut funding for just about everything intended to benefit children and single mothers including massive cuts to the States for child support enforcement it’s a bit difficult to understand how ‘pro-life’ resources could be so ineffectual and silent in their attempts to (oh make me laugh) promote paternal responsibility.

     

     

  • progo35

    You know what, Colleen? Accusing you of lying isn’t even worthwhile because anyone reading the many posts on this blog can see that Marysia and I, for instance, have discussed male responsibility at length, as have organizations such as Feminists for life, etc. So, you’re not lying. You’re just in denial.

     

     

    Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • colleen

    anyone reading the many posts on this blog can see that Marysia and I,
    for instance, have discussed male responsibility at length

    Than I’m sure you will have no problem providing us with several cites. (mind you ‘at length’ would normally mean ‘more than a passing reference’ or ‘a single sentence’.)

     

     

     

  • progo35

    I have better things to do right now, like preparing for my final in music theory on Thursday. I need not provide such cites because if you really wanted to research this, you are more than capable of doing so. Moreover, what evidence can you provide that pro life organizations make pregnancy sound as if it came out via parthenogenesis? Let’s see you cite that argument.  

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • colleen

    I have better things to do right now,… I need not provide such cites because if you
    really wanted to research this, you are more than capable of doing so.

    snort

    Sure you do need to back up your bullshit. I did a search. All you’ve done is insult and sound like a petulant child with reading comprehension problems.Come on now, find me more than two consecutive sentences addressing male responsibility for unwanted pregnancies written by a ‘pro-lifer’ here over the past year. You claimed they were abundant and that I was lying or in denial. If they are abundant than it would not take you long to find these discussions you claim exist. Perhaps you’re lying or in denial.

     

    that pro life organizations make pregnancy sound as if it came out via parthenogenesis

    What I said was that pro-lifers here never seriously address the notion of male responsibility for unwanted pregnancies and particularly when we’re discussing issues such as  teen pregnancies (and 2/3rds of these the male involved is 20 years old or more) or finding ‘common ground’. I said that your collective silence, particularly considering  the volumes of drivel y’all write slamming on women, leads one to believe that you think humans reproduce by  parthenogenesis. It was a somewhat sarcastic observation. You sound desperate

  • invalid-0

    Cmarie,

    I find your post very confusing and not sure where you stand on this label issue. I have been involved in the movement for some time and have never heard anyone have issues with the “pro-choice” term…well perhaps anti-choicers.

    So you’re saying that if a woman makes a series of “choices,” which in your view are poor choices, she should not get a choice to terminate a pregnancy? Ie. you had a choice to use birth control, but you didn’t, so sorry-no more choice. I don’t think that’s what people mean when they identify as pro-choice.

  • invalid-0

    If you find my post confusing and are not sure where I stand on the label issue, I can see why using birth control correctly presents such a challenge to you. That’s scary, especially if as you say you’ve been involved in this “movement for years”. If you want to know where I stand on the label issue please reread my first post. If you still think birth control is that overwhelming please talk to your doctor…..soon.

  • invalid-0

    I see Flip is at it again with her superficial, shallow and thoughtless posts.
    Anonymous- that is EXACTLY what cmarie said. If you “choose” to have sex- and you get pregnant, you are not entitled to any more choices.

  • invalid-0

    And if YOU get cancer you dont get any more choices. You get to die.
    And if you have a credit card and the rates get raised and you can no longer afford your minimum payments you get no choices other than what the credit card company gets to dictate to you.
    And hey yanno what? Don’t come here and dictate what “choices” you think other people should have.

    Get stuffed you sick freak.