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The Abortion Wars, Part Two: Who Believes What – And Why

In The Abortion Wars, Part One, TMM discussed recent history of these wars and how conservative Republicans are winning them. Now let’s summarize both sides’ positions, in a good-faith effort to clarify them.

Progressives believe women have the right to make momentous decisions about their health and future themselves – not in politicians making those decisions for them. A bumper sticker declared “If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one”. Translation: women should decide whether to have one, or not, themselves (hence the designation “pro-choice”).

Progressives wonder how conservatives, who support smaller, less intrusive government, want maximum governmental power taking this personal decision away from women.

Progressives believe unwanted children may not be born (or adopted) into loving families, and may end up neglected or abused.

Progressives acknowledge women will have abortions, legal or not, as they did before Roe v. Wade. Women then, without legal options, had self-induced or infamous “back-alley abortions”. Many died painful deaths in the process. Coat hangers became grotesque symbols, used as crude tools. Other tools included knitting needles, ballpoint pens, and toxic chemicals (women drank bleach and laundry detergent to end pregnancies).

The CDC estimates in 1972 (the year before Roe), 130,000 American women had self-induced or illegal abortions, resulting in 39 deaths. Worldwide, unsafe abortions are currently estimated to cause 22,000 deaths and millions of injuries annually.

These grim statistics demonstrate women will have abortions, legal or not. That won’t change if they become illegal in America.

Conservatives, conversely, believe abortions end lives of fetuses that could become human beings (hence the designation “pro-life”).

Conservatives argue unwanted children should be adopted instead. Progressives counter statistics show children of color, those with disabilities, and those who are older, are less likely to be adopted, more likely growing up in foster homes, then totally on their own when they reach adult age.

Conservatives worry unconcerned women use abortion as a birth-control measure. Progressives counter abortion is a surgical procedure, involving pain and recovery time; and that few, if any, women choose that over painless, readily-available birth-control methods (condoms, the pill, IUDs, etc.).

Decades of abortion wars have resulted in many casualties. In America, anti-abortion violence has killed at least eleven people, including four doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard, a police officer, and a clinic escort. Since 1977 in North America, abortion providers have also endured 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault, 100 acid attacks, 373 physical invasions, 41 bombings, 655 anthrax threats, and 3 kidnappings.

Progressives wonder how a movement motivating extremists to commit such violence can be called “pro-life”.

Conservatives counter abortion is violent for the fetus involved, and that kind of violence is “more than a choice”.

Can we at least agree both sides have legitimate, strongly-held beliefs – and neither will surrender?

Our dilemma, then: can we find solutions that neither side will be HAPPY with – but both sides can LIVE with? Where both sides get some things they want – and give up some things to get them? A Moderate solution TMM will explore in our next post; stay tuned.

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