Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice is stalemate
This is a response to many of the comments that I have received to my Pro-Rights post.
It’s been interesting being treated as if I was a Pro-Choice happy baby killer, but in reality, I am not. I want to see a more rightward solution to the abortion issue.
Do you care more about the argument or the goals? Most of the people who have commented on my entry have issues with it because it’s not a Pro-Life argument and ignore the fact that it would actually advance Pro-Life goals. I assumed that the Pro-Life advocates were interested in achieving the goal of pushing back abortion however they can. If, however, it turns out that the Pro-Life advocates are happier to argue your argument – rather than actually achieving goals – then I am spinning my wheels here. But if you are actually interested in achieving the goals you argue for so passionately then consider the state of the abortion debate.
The numbers are different depending upon the survey, but essentially 30% of America is Pro-Life, 30% is Pro-Choice, and 40% are somewhere in the middle. These percentages have wobbled back and forth a bit during the past 35 years but are basically unchanged. Neither argument has enough support to become the majority opinion in this country and there is no reason to believe this will change in the next 35 or the next 100 years. The Pro-Life argument has achieved about as much of it’s goals as it’s likely to.
The basic plan on both sides is to pack the courts with judges who are sympathetic to their views. That’s a fine plan, but it only works until the other side is able to regain the majority. Gaining such a majority in the courts would be difficult and that majority would be lost as the pendulum swings the other way. That’s because of that 40% of America that’s in the middle on this. You may not like that, you may curse their names, but you won’t ever advance your goals without them.
Neither side can win with the existing status of the debate. Is it life? Yes it is, but that needs to be reconciled with the fact that the majority of Americans will not accept outlawing abortion entirely. Does the woman have a choice? Yes she does, but that needs to be reconciled with the fact that the majority of Americans are uncomfortable with abortion on demand.
Viewing the argument in a Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice manner has not yielded a majority opinion in this country so the problem might very well be that we’re not asking ourselves the right questions. Instead of trying to find a way to pack the courts and to force the rest of the country to go along, why not try to come up with an argument that the majority finds persuasive?
It is because I am unsettled by how far to the left abortion has gone in this country that I have tried to come up with a a rightward solution that the majority would be able to live with. I’m in that middle 40% on this issue. I can see elements in both arguments that would appeal to many people. In a perfect world both arguments would work fine, but this isn’t a perfect world. Neither argument has the whole solution.
The reality is that abortion is a complex issue. It may be simple for you, but it is not so for a lot of other people. Their concerns are not immaterial. It will only be by arguments that address those concerns or appeal to them otherwise that we as a nation will be able to gain consensus on the issue.
There are a lot of people on the other side who are amiable toward restricting abortion a bit, but are worried about a slippery slope leading to abortion being made entirely illegal. There are Libertarians who value their rights before your values. There are a lot of people who could be brought on board by the message that abortion is a family decision and that by making it so the family unit would be strengthened. Arguing for gender equality in regards to reproductive rights is actually a way to use the Pro-Choice argument against itself.
By addressing those concerns and using new arguments I think it’s possible for a more rightward abortion solution to be accepted by the majority in this country, but it’ll only be made possible by acknowledging that you won’t be able to get everything you want. There’s no chance of getting everything, but there’s a good chance of getting some of it, and some is better then none.
- John A Brill