Cutting Off Your Own Hands

by Jay Johansen

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A prominent organization in the US is tearing itself apart in a fight over abortion. It's not that some members are for it and others against it. They are fighting because some of their members believe that abortion should not be legal under any circumstances, while others believe that it should be allowed when the life of the mother is at risk. As I write this, it looks like the organization will split in half over this issue.

I'm not going to name that organization here: They know who they are, and my purpose here is not to cause them any further harm or embarassment, but to warn others against falling into the same foolishness.

Because this fight is absolute foolishness.

Suppose we created a scale of possible positions on abortion. Let's say 1 to 10. At the most extreme pro-abortion end, let's call it 1, would be something like, "Abortion should be legal at any time during pregnancy, for any reason, and people should be required to actively support it whether they agree or not." At the other end, 10 would presumably be, "Abortion should be illegal under all circumstances".

So this organization is shooting itself in the foot over the question of whether the ultimate goal should be 10 or 9. Meanwhile, present U.S. law is about a 2: Abortion is legal at any time during pregnancy. The partial birth abortion debate is all about whether abortion should be legal when the baby is partially delivered, so we are clearly at a pretty far extreme here. Several states have forced pro-life pharamacists to stock and distribute abortion-inducing drugs, and pro-life hospitals to perform abortions. The only restrictions on abortion are some limitations on use of tax money to pay for it, and some requirements that underage girls cannot get abortions without their parents being informed.

Is it really worth arguing about whether the target should be 9 or 10 when we are presently at 2? Rather than fighting each other, wouldn't it make a lot more sense to work together until we've moved the law to, say, 7 or 8? If we ever reach the point where the pro-abortionists are totally and completely defeated, then we will have the luxury to have a fight between the moderate pro-lifers and the extreme pro-lifers.

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Posted 3 Sep 2006.

Copyright 2006 by Pregnant Pause.
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