Monday, January 30, 2006

Abortion's middle ground

Monday, January 23, 2006; Posted: 4:27 p.m. EST (21:27 GMT)

I watched the demonstrations this weekend marking the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade and wonder at their familiarity; the candlelight vigil in front of the Supreme Court, the masses on the mall and in cities across the country, the urgent hope that protesters express as they see the fight breaking in their favor: John Roberts. Sam Alito. New laws in multiple states that are bound to wind up being challenged, so that the next battle is bound to be waged before a more sympathetic High Court.


These journeys of course, are typical, which is why the public debate has shifted so much in the years since Roe. Many women who once defended the right to life or the right to choose as automatic and unfreighted have matured through their own experiences and those of their friends. It is increasingly common for Democratic candidates who would once have allowed not the least ethical elasticity into their positions to embrace the careful Clinton Construct: that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. When extremists on the right suggest that liberals view abortion as not just a right but practically a sport, or extremists on the left suggest that there is nothing deeply personal at stake here, only political, they are operating outside the region where I think the rest of us have landed. We have conducted, over the course of 33 years, a long and often painful tutorial that works every moral muscle. I don't know if demonstrations ever really change people minds. But life's lessons very often do.

Brilliantly put, I think.

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