Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 8:05 pm

Common ground is overrated

This is what happens when you try to be reasonable with unreasonable people:

As the White House readies its plan for finding “common ground” on reproductive health issues and reducing the need for abortion, a major debate has emerged over how to package the plan’s two major components: preventing unwanted pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion.

Many abortion rights advocates and some Democrats who want to dial down the culture wars want the White House to package the two parts of the plan together, as a single piece of legislation. The plan would seek to reduce unwanted pregnancies by funding comprehensive sex education and contraception and to reduce the need for abortion by bolstering federal support for pregnant women. Supporters of the approach say it would force senators and members of Congress on both sides of the abortion battle to compromise their traditional positions, creating true common ground that mirrors what President Obama has called for.

But more conservative religious groups working with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships say they would be forced to oppose such a plan—even though they support the abortion reduction part—because they oppose federal dollars for contraception and comprehensive sex education. This camp, which includes such formidable organizations as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention, is pressuring the White House to decouple the two parts of the plan into separate bills. One bill would focus entirely on preventing unwanted pregnancy, while the other would focus on supporting pregnant women.

For these groups, making abortion illegal isn’t even the primary goal. Their primary goal is controlling the behavior of Americans, even those Americans who do not share their religious views. They don’t believe in a right to safe, legal abortion. They don’t believe in artificial contraception (access to which has been the law of the land since the Supreme Court’s Griswold decision in 1965). They don’t even believe in the right to privacy.

These are not reasonable people, these are not honest people, and these are not people who deserve any role in policy making in a free country. They want to use the mechanisms of a free society to deny freedom to others without so much as a shred of justification. That’s unacceptable.

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