Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Where Is a Common Ground?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Where Is a Common Ground?

Article excerpt

From a pro-choice point of view, things look grim. Last month came accusations that abortion-rights advocates had prevaricated about how frequently "partial birth" or "intact dilation and evacuation" abortion is performed.

Then the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to ban the procedure. The Senate may soon address the issue, but even if it fails to override President Bill Clinton's promised veto, the pro-choice movement is staring at a great symbolic defeat.

Pro-lifers have made the most of the "partial birth" abortion debate to dramatize the gruesome details of late-term abortions. Then they moved on to the equally unpleasant details of second-trimester abortions. Thus, pro-lifers have succeeded in making queasy many voters who once thought that they were comfortable with Roe vs. Wade. Unfortunately, we set ourselves up for this. Our rhetoric has long relied on euphemism. An abortion was simply "a woman's choice." We clung to a neutral, abstract language of "privacy" and "rights." Whe n someone holds up a model of a six-month-old fetus and a pair of surgical scissors, we say, "choice," and we lose. Some pro-choicers have resorted to heartless medicalese to explain away the upsetting details of late abortions, pointing out that no major surgery is pretty. Such responses make us seem disconnected from our own humane sensibilities. We should acknowledge what most Americans want us to: Abortion at any stage, since it involves the possibility of another life, is a grave decision qualitatively different from medical choices that involve no one but ourselves. What if we called abortion what many believe it to be: a failure, whether that failure is of technology, social support, education or male and female responsibility? What if we called policies that sustain, tolerate and even guarantee the highest abortion rate of any industrialized nation what they should be called: crimes against women? If we frankly acknowledged abortion as a necessary evil, a more effective and ethical strategy falls into place. Instead of avoiding pictures of mangled fetuses as if they were pro-life propaganda, we could claim them as our own most eloquent testimony. …

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