In the Washington Post yesterday, liberal columnist Richard Cohen wrote a very interesting article entitled Support Choice, Not Roe. He admits what pro-lifers have been saying since the beginning – that abortion is not just a question of choice for the woman, but of life for the child.
I no longer see abortion as directly related to sexual freedom or feminism, and I no longer see it strictly as a matter of personal privacy, either. It entails questions about life — maybe more so at the end of the process than at the beginning, but life nonetheless.
This is not a fashionable view in some circles, but it is one that usually gets grudging acceptance when I mention it. I know of no one who has flipped on the abortion issue, but I do know of plenty of people who no longer think of it as a minor procedure that only prudes and right-wingers oppose. The antiabortion movement has made headway.
He goes on to mention that most polls don’t measure this shift, since they are only interested in if people are simply pro-life or pro-choice.
That shift in sentiment is not apparent in polls because they do not measure doubt, only position: for or against. But between one and the other, black or white, is a vast area of gray where up or down, yes or no, fades to questions about circumstance: Why, what month, etc.? Whatever the case, the very basis of the Roe v. Wade decision — the one that grounds abortion rights in the Constitution — strikes many people now as faintly ridiculous. Whatever abortion may be, it cannot simply be a matter of privacy.
Go read the article – his honest evaluation of the issue finally moves towards the middle, where we should be – balancing a woman’s rights with the child’s right. Of course, all-or-nothing conservatives may need to now move from their pole as well, as I suggested in Citizens for Reasonable Abortion Limits. But then again, I don’t think we can move very far into pregnancy before we have a person with rights, so my suggested that we outlaw abortions after 4-6 weeks may seem like not much of a compromise at all to pro-choicers.