On the Politics of Abortion

This is an excerpt from "Beyond Abortion — A Common Good Feminism for the Twenty-First Century" published on the website for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

"Few issues are as contentious as the issue of abortion. Hard-line activists dominate both the pro-life and pro-choice movements, promoting absolutist positions and a combative approach that leaves little room for compromise. The result is that not nearly enough has been accomplished in one area where there is a large consensus: reducing the abortion rate.

"People of good will and sound mind can fall on either side of the abortion issue, but few reasonable people would contest the desirability of reducing the abortion rate. Most pro-choice women concede that abortion is in some sense tragic. This is why they reject the label pro-abortion. And by embracing choice, it is clear that they want women to have real choices, not feel compelled to procure abortions out of economic necessity. For pro-lifers, their activism is either about saving the lives of individual unborn children who each have dignity and worth or it’s a political game that has become divorced from its initial inspiration. Neither ideological extremism nor partisanship should stand in the way of accomplishing this worthy goal.

"The time has come to dial down the nasty rhetoric and the perpetual vitriol and work together on a goal everyone can agree on without compromising their deepest values: to create a country whose political and economic structures, whose social and cultural values, make it a place where abortion is no longer needed or desired by pregnant women. The conflict over the legality of abortion will inevitably persist, but feminists on both sides of the issue can and should work together on issues where there is common ground."


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