What Common Ground?

by EmmaGold

In the New York Times Saturday, an article on the closing of Dr. George Tiller’s clinic said:

the most ardent abortion opponents… cannot help pointing out that one gunman achieved what all their protests and prayers could not.

That’s scary.

Abortion is all over the news and the blogs lately, and every article seems to have the same conclusion: abortion opponents do not want common-ground, they will not compromise.

More after the fold

A post in Salon comments on the NYTimes piece:

Reasonable people, we’re told, should be looking for common ground between both sides of the abortion debate. But where can that be when one side truly believes millions of children are being slaughtered, and the government doesn’t care? When one side believes that the assassination of a beloved doctor represents prayers answered, as Gietzen put it to a volunteer who called him shortly after hearing the news of Tiller’s murder? When a man lawfully doing his job has to spend untold thousands of dollars on security equipment to protect himself from protesters who routinely stretch the law as thin as possible, if not break it — and despite it all, is shot dead in his own church? And when the man who allegedly did it calls reporters from prison to warn that this will keep happening as long as abortion remains legal?

In Slate, William Saletan, who is not exactly pro-choice (perhaps we can call him “mixed-choice”), describes a new abortion reduction bill, one that promotes contraception, comprehensive (but abstinent-friendly) sex education, expanded adoption and financial support for pregnant women who want keep their children. NARAL and Planned Parenthood have signed on, as have several pro-life religious groups.

But the militant old guard of the pro-life movement didn’t. The militants, led by the National Right to Life Committee, call the bill a “scam.” According to NRLC Legislative Director Doug Johnson, the bill’s real goal is “financial gains for the abortion industry.” How could abortion-reducing legislation help the “abortion industry”? By funding contraception.

He concludes:

Ultimately, the militants don’t care what’s in the bill. The mere fact that some pro-choicers support it is, by their reckoning, grounds to oppose it…Common ground is impossible. In the name of life, we must fight to the death.

And although he doesn’t refer to Dr. Tiller’s murder, he’s completely right.

Anti-choicers have taken on health-care, despite the fact that abortion hasn’t been mentioned in a single draft bill. In fact, as Dana Goldstein mentioned on Alternet:

None of these restrictions would be explicitly overturned by any of the health reform proposals currently being considered in Congress. Far from cackling as they sneakily lobby for “abortion-on-demand” legislation, women’s health advocates are actually rather anxious. In the Senate, anti-choice Republicans say they will oppose any health reform plan that subsidizes abortion coverage or even includes, in the proposed health insurance exchanges, private insurers that cover abortion. Currently, over 90 percent of health plans cover abortion. That means if Democrats capitulate, the majority of women who currently have abortion coverage could lose it. The result would be a near-blanket restriction on women’s access to insurance-subsidized abortion, one far more radical than the Hyde Amendment.

Why so much hyperbole, then, from the anti-choicers? They’re terrified. We have a pro-choice president. We have a Democratic (if not pro-choice) majority in both houses of Congress. After years of protests, of quiet restrictions and delaying tactics, of trying to restrict and protest and pray abortion out of existance, the anti-choicers are afraid that their efforst might finally be turned around.

We’re looking for common ground, for ways to move forward. They can only look backwards, in fear.