Monday, January 22, 2007

Ellen Goodman on abortion's "middle ground"

Montana Headlines will usually not comment on syndicated columnists, but since it is the commemoration of Roe v. Wade's anniversary to appear today in the Billings Gazette, Ellen Goodman's column gets the nod.

In it, she decries the way that middle ground is supposedly being blocked by pro-life groups.

Her premise is breathtakingly audacious, given the fact that it is precisely Roe v. Wade and its take-no-prisoners defense by pro-abortion groups that prevents any political compromise on abortion.

The fact that she uses the disingenuous (to be kind) and logically falacious approach of equating contraception with abortion is disappointing, given the fact that liberals are so much smarter than conseratives.

She triumphantly says that abortion supporters have spent the years since Roe v. Wade "with their ear to the middle ground," where they learned that the middle ground that America supports is.... widespread dissemination of contraceptives.

Most Americans certainly prefer that a woman prevent conception rather than having her abort her baby.

But there is no law against contraception and Planned Parenthood works widely and legally to distribute contraceptives, so this is a false middle ground. Were it the middle ground, the abortion controversy would disappear from the radar screen.

No, the middle ground overwhelmingly supported in poll after poll is for abortion to be legal but restricted. Most Americans support parental notification, oppose partial birth abortions, oppose mid and late-term abortions, and oppose abortion on demand. In short, they support all of the true middle ground positions that abortion supporters won't even allow into the public debate, instead desperately manning the granite-walled ramparts of Roe v. Wade.

Given a straight-up vote in which abortion would be legal in cases of the life and physical health of the mother, rape and incest, and severe birth deformities -- a middle ground would be discovered very quickly. Given the opportunity to eliminate the vast majority of abortions in the country, pro-life groups would come into line in support of this political compromise, regardless of the fact that the personal and religious beliefs of many, if not most pro-life activists would preclude the latter two sets of exceptions.

But that opportunity for political compromise will never happen until Roe v. Wade is overturned, because that particular judicial fiat stopped cold the political process by which any compromise could be reached.

So long as abortion supporters fight ferociously to defend Roe v. Wade -- to the point of smearing any potential Supreme Court justice who might overturn it, no matter how well qualified, they are sending the message that they do not want political compromise on abortion.

In fact, they do not want the democratic political process involved at all -- because they know what the result would be. If they are confident that the NARAL position is the middle ground, they should let Roe fall -- and let the process of discovering the real middle ground begin.