Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Words V. Actions – Bridging the Gap

Terry Mattingly at Get Religion has found an interesting news item that has not received nearly the amount of news coverage it warrants…

Through a new idea called the "95/10 Initiative", a group called Democrats for Life is suggesting a way to reduce the number of abortions by 95% in the next 10 years. Who knows what kind of validity there is to those numbers, but at least it seems to be a step in the right direction.

As Terry points out, it will be interesting to see if there is any truth behind Clintonesque assertions of the hope to make abortion “safe, legal, and rare”.

(Kris at Anywhere But Here points to a good example that calls into question the sincerity of such assertions. Parableman’s archived ruminations on this subject also point out the disingenuous nature of leftist claims supposedly aspiring to make abortion “rare".)

My guess is that further conversation about this topic will be muted or, if the proposal begins to gain some traction, pro-choice Dems will find some minor point of contention that will allow them to oppose the idea. Afterall, abortion is big business in this country, as Joe Carter points out, and the lobbyists are not going down without a fight on this.

It will also be interesting to see how the right wing responds. For instance, what is the chance Dr. Dobson would ever rally the troops in a compromise that involves teaching comprehensive sex-ed in schools? (Oh my, what is that - a pig flying outside my window…)

Why can’t grown-ups find mature solutions to issues of life and death? I would submit it comes down to one of two possibilities. Either they are captive to special interests (see NOW or NARAL on the left) or they are beholden to noble ideals that negate the possibility of finding attainable compromises (see the right clinging to “abstinence-only” education even at the expense of human lives).

In an ideal world, we would conduct research to find an optimal solution that all reasonable parties could agree upon (in other words, what actually has the highest success ratio in reducing the number of abortions) and just do it. Period. For this reason, I think Democrats for Life are on the right track.

Jason at Antioch Road is calling for someone (Bush in particular) to “stand up and lead” on the abortion issue. That’s a request that needs to be heeded and is long overdue. Now that it appears someone is leading, I would be curious as to how he (and others on the right) feel Bush should respond to the Dems for Life initiative.

Over on the left, I’m also curious as to how Publius at Legal Fiction would react to this initiative. In a recent post, he stated: “For instance, progressives and conservatives could surely agree on the value of promoting adoption programs and sex education to reduce the number of abortions…” 'Surely', eh? Methinks not. Here’s an example of some folks from your own party putting some impetus behind those words: What say you, Publius?

We’ll see if anyone else wants to follow suit in offering or endorsing some sort of practical solution. Of course, that would involve an actual conversation between the opposing sides to find a workable compromise. Okay, now I’m actually making myself laugh. Sorry for the delusional suggestion. The children can now resume with the partisan name-calling and finger pointing. I need a drink.

UPDATE: Jason at Antioch Road has posted a reply that states his position on the 95-10 Intiative.

Of course, something like an experiment about how to reduce abortions has been tried through the policies of other countries. Bastions of liberalism such as the Netherlands and France both have significantly lower abortion rates.

The difficulty for Conservatives in N America is that the path for such a reduction violates other cherished policies: access to birth control, sex education, national health care and societal safety net policies (e.g. day care, job security, etc).

Speaking as a Dem, the above policies would seeem to confirm that overall strategy of reducing the drivers for abortion. So instead of trying to stop it solely at the woman's side, or at the supply side, we instead look at the process. When a young woman feels insecure in her circumstances, she is more likely to abort. Keep her secure in her person (birth control, sex ed) and/or in her job and you can start pushing down abortion rates. Prosperity is an important tool here, as well.

From the Dem side, abortion has a strong social dimension that can be succssfully addressed. The Conservative preference for the individual emphasizes moral action but may be overlooking other worthwhile avenues for building a just society.
I'd be hesitant to insinuate that lower abortion rates exist only in countries with liberal laws. While the Skandinavian countries do have low rates, I believe Poland has the world's lowest rate of abortion. That's a country where it is illegal except in limited circumstances. And arguments that its citizens are fleeing to have abortions elsewhere are circumspect.

On the larger issue, though, I'm glad to hear you are willing to compromise in order to achieve the underlying goal of lowering abortion rates. Would it be accurate to assume that, in addition to providing birth control and sex-ed to young women, you would support the following items as outlined in the Dem's iniative?

- Require Adoption Referral Information
- Provide Ultrasound Equipment
- Require Parental Notification for Abortions

Seem reasonable?
Hi Chad -- I've collected a group of links, many of them Democrats, that are largely supportive of the issue, here and here. Brian at is also watching this closely and has a large collection of links . We're both Democrats and highly supportive.

I've only found one pro-choice person vehemently opposed, so far. I'm sure there will be resistance on both extremes.

Thanks for the links. I'm not a Democrat, but I'm really heartened to see that the DNC is finally ceasing from completely disassociating itself from Pro-Life Dems. That is great news.

As is the case on nearly all crucial compromises, extremists on both ends with oppose it. However, for the sake of saving innocent lives, I really hope enough reasonable people will usurp the partisan political machinery.
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