The Boston Globe ran an editorial yesterday suggesting "common ground" be reached in the abortion debate. This modest proposal exemplifies the problems for pro-lifers when they hear the words "common ground."
The editorial begins by referencing Senator Clinton’s recent comments (which I blogged on here), stating, "Clinton's remarks offer a good opportunity to consider where common ground might be found on the polarizing issue of abortion without retreating on the essential right of a woman to choose."
What then, are the components of this "essential right" which must be defended? Well, first the Globe points at the restrictions: "More than 85 percent of counties in the United States have no practicing abortion provider." Now, the Globe doesn’t point this out, but maybe, just maybe, could it be that there is not the demand to support an abortion provider in these counties? As anyone who has driven through the Midwest and Western U.S. can tell you, there is an awful lot of space in this country. You can drive for hours without seeing people. Maybe the Globe writers think the rest of the U.S. looks like Boston, or maybe they think that abortion providers should be as plentiful as gas stations in the U.S.
The next sentence gives us a suggestion of what the editorial writers have in mind as a solution to the lack of demand. "Many poor women and all federal employees, including women in the military, cannot have abortions covered by Medicaid or federal insurance." Direct and indirect government subsidies should eliminate the lack of abortion providers. That’s a good compromise position for pro-lifers. Please take my tax dollars to pay for abortion.
Of course, my typical response when I hear people talking about the restrictions on abortion is to challenge them to look in the yellow pages under "abortion." My local yellow pages has an ad that offers "Reduced Rate Plans for Students, Medicaid & Military." They also accept credit cards. Another offers abortions from 3 to 28 weeks (do the math - 28 divided by 4 = 7 months pregnant). I think the most disingenuous is one that offers "referrals through 24.5 wks." Do you think they’ve ever refused a referral on a Saturday that they would have given on the Wednesday before? If so, why? Did the fetus somehow become something more (dare we say, a person) on that Thursday?
"Forty-three states allow hospitals and clinics to refuse to provide abortion services; 28 states include public hospitals." When I read this I was stunned. Seven states do not allow Catholic hospitals to refuse to provide abortion services? I can think of two possible results of this. Either Catholic hospitals in those states violate the deeply held convictions of the church that started and supports them, or they simply do not offer any OB/GYN services. Are either of these options something the law should support?
Next the Globe gives a litany of pro-life legislation that must be opposed. In doing so they list legislation like the Child Custody Protect Act and parental consent laws. They claim to oppose parental consent because it could require a minor girl to tell her rapist father that she was pregnant (though if you’ve ever read the Casey decision you would know this is a straw man. Parental consent laws require a judicial bypass to be constitutional). Maybe the editorial page writers at the Globe don’t recall, but one of the situations that the Child Custody Protection Act was drafted to remedy was that of a statutory rapist taking his victim across state borders to avoid parental consent laws in his home state. Is this what the Globe means when it advocates "helping a minor cross state lines?"
So we can see where the Globe thinks common ground can be found on the abortion issue. Increase the number of abortion providers nationwide, increase government funding for abortion, eliminate parental consent laws, and force religious hospitals to provide abortions. Sounds like a recipe for success for pro-lifers.
The Globe isn’t done yet though. They have three suggestions of other legislation that will provide common ground.
First, "Revers[e] ... outdated laws" that "still forbid adoption by unmarried or single parents and gay couples." Of course, as the Globe explains, these laws exist only in "some states." How many states, you ask? Three states ban gay adoption. Three. Suggesting that Utah, Mississippi, and Florida change their laws on this will bring everyone together.
Of course, before we jump on the Globe’s bandwagon here, maybe we should ask if this legal change is likely to be supported by values voters. After all, isn’t that the idea? Find legislation we can all support? And the Globe gives good reason to support this legal change in these three states: "to ensure that every unplanned birth can be matched to a loving adopted home." I wonder if the editors at the Globe know anyone who has ever tried to adopt. If they do, maybe they should ask them why the wait for a child was so long. We are not facing a crisis of a lack of prospective parents for infant children who need a home, rather, there are waiting lists for prospective parents to adopt across the country.
The second proposal the Globe offers is increased birth control to "reduce the need for abortion." Setting aside the term "need" for the moment, is it realistic to believe that the vast majority of unplanned pregnancies could have been prevented if only the parents had known what a condom was? Or maybe the Globe is suggesting that condoms are not available enough in the U.S. Or that there is a real barrier to getting birth control if you want it. They suggest having condoms available in high schools will help with this. So let me see if I understand. These high school students are ready, willing, and able to use condoms, and are mature enough to understand the consequences of sex and to use the condoms. The only barrier to condom use is these students are not mature enough to go to the drug store (or the men’s room of the local gas station) and spend a few dollars. Sounds reasonable to me. Bring out the tax dollars to give condoms away free.
The third proposal is a ban on the "family cap" laws that were suggested in states around the country and at the federal level to limit welfare benefits in the 1990's. Of course, if good political advice is what the Globe really wants to give, basing that advice on opposition to reform plans is not likely to inspire confidence in those politicians who want to win. On the merits, though, this is good advice. I oppose a family cap, and if the Globe did a little research they might find that this proposal was sunk at the federal level thanks in no small part to the efforts of pro-lifers.
When one reviews the Globe’s ideas on "common ground" it becomes clear that the best they can offer is a roll back of every pro-life measure passed since Roe, and support of three policy proposals, two of which are likely to turn away more pro-life voters than they bring in.
No thank you. But keep trying. It makes it easier to get pro-values candidates elected when the opposition is so clueless.