Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How Abortion Bans Might Help the Debate ; They Could Force the Majority of People on Both Sides to Find Common Ground

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How Abortion Bans Might Help the Debate ; They Could Force the Majority of People on Both Sides to Find Common Ground

Article excerpt

The South Dakota legislature, in an effort to ban abortion, could force the US Supreme Court to enshrine Roe v. Wade as the law of the land for all time. If this happens, such a decision would soon become the poster child for unintended consequences.

The South Dakota law may very well require the Supreme Court to show that stare decisis (precedent) is more than just a rhetorical strategy used by conservative justices to win Senate approval. But since Roe v. Wade is, and has been, the law of the land for 33 years, I'm more interested in another unintended consequence of the South Dakota law: that it may force the majority of the good people on both sides of the ugly abortion debate to find common ground.

The stage is already being set. Afraid of a backlash that would galvanize the pro-choice movement, many prominent antiabortion leaders are advising legislators in Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee not to pass bans under consideration similar to South Dakota's. Instead they are urging smaller steps such as requiring doctors to show women their fetal ultrasounds and to mandate counseling for women who opt for abortions. Which brings us to common ground.

Pro-choice groups should endorse these kinds of requirements. Pro- choice organizations should make it clear that every abortion ends a life, albeit a potential one. They should stop euphemizing and start making it clear that they really understand how emotionally wrenching an abortion can be.

I say this as someone who (a) went through an abortion with a girlfriend in college (b) spent three years working in an abortion clinic counseling men and (c) has been a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the ACLU.

The abortion debate, like every debate in America, is all about the fringes. Most people who are antiabortion are not extremists. …

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