The gray area between "Pro-Life" and "Pro-Choice"

Let me start with the conclusion to one of my archived diary entries: the Reagan coalition is NOT dead — but it depends on each element accepting the other.

Abortion is quite understandably a lightning-rod issue. Many on RedState subscribe to the view expressed in a recent diary entry: There Is No Middle Ground.

Anyone with a conscience who looked around and saw millions of murders taking place in their country couldn’t help but be outraged. And utterly shocked and dismayed that others could be so complacent. How is it possible for so many to be pro-abortion, i.e. in favor of murder?

When phrased like that, the question answers itself. Like it or not, tens of millions of people in this country simply do not believe that any and all abortion is murder. That’s obvious, but here’s the part that passionate pro-life advocates seem to have trouble understanding or at least acknowledging: millions of these are people who in most respects you would agree are people of good will. And, millions are practicing Christians and Jews.

I am not here to defend the far left, nor unrestricted abortion on demand, nor partial-birth abortion, nor suspending the role of parents. Forget that whole crowd.

I am not here to argue against anyone’s belief that as a moral or religious issue, there is no middle ground.

But in the realm of politics, there’s a very important middle ground. In fact, not just one but several shades of gray.

There are tens of millions of people who would accept much greater limits on abortion — but who are not willing to ban it outright. These people do not consider themselves to be “pro-abortion”. You may not agree with the line that they’ve drawn, but if you force them out of the middle ground that they have chosen, you force them into the other camp.

You may honestly view the “pro-choice” label as a devious way to dress-up “pro-murder” policies. And perhaps that’s true for some — or even many. But millions of people sincerely believe that in the final analysis, the decision should be up to a woman and not imposed from the outside. That includes women who would never have an abortion themselves and may even consider abortion to be evil. But perhaps the lessor of evils.

Even as a technical matter, there are several places one could draw the line. The Catholic Church draws a line even before conception, but there’s clearly no political will to go back to outlawing birth control. A few moments (or hours, or even days) after conception takes place, many people just don’t see the result as a human being with the full rights of a newborn baby. They may not be in favor of the “morning after” pill, but they certainly don’t see it as murder. They do not see a few rapidly dividing cells as a baby. I’m not asking you to agree with them, but it’s useful to understand this view. And it’s counter-productive to call these people “pro-death”.

Now lets start from the other side. The moment before birth? Born premature? “Viable” but still inside? The pro-choice middle ground clearly agrees that all of these are unborn babies. There’s very little support for third trimester abortion, and probably not much in the second.

So, when do the “cells” turn into a “baby”? The answer for “people of good will who are not willing to ban all abortion” is probably “I don’t know.” And the good news for pro-life advocates: that provides plenty of room for winning converts to the view that it should be earlier and earlier. But in the near term, no amount of argument is going to convince people that a few days after conception is the same as the third trimester.

Back to politics: the South Dakota legislature can ban abortion, but as a ballot question, the citizens disagree. I don’t claim to have the right answer for the GOP stance on abortion. It’s extraordinarily difficult to balance between those who sincerely want their country to outlaw what they see as millions of murders every year, and those who may embrace numerous restrictions on abortion but do not agree with banning it outright.

Reach out to “reluctantly pro-choice” voters to find common ground, rather than pushing them away with an all or nothing stance that has mostly yielded nothing since Roe v. Wade.

Many on RedState are social, fiscal and defense conservatives — and view that as a natural combination. But others only embrace 2 of the 3, and some only 1. The only way to turn back the left is for these groups to work together, and sometimes agree to disagree.

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

(If anyone thinks I’m unfairly picking on 1 leg of the coalition, I’m happy to create a diary entry on things the other groups may have to give up.)