While at Faith in Public Life this summer I have had a second row seat watching the efforts to find common ground on abortion. Last month I blogged a little bit about my position, what Obama's been doing, and the new Common Ground blog at RH Reality Check.
Last week the movement for common ground on abortion picked up steam as an exciting new piece of legislation went public. It is called the "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Parents Act."
More than three dozen religious leaders and groups from across the ideological spectrum announced their support for landmark legislation unveiled today by Representatives Tim Ryan (OH-17) and Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) that makes concrete progress toward the shared goal of reducing the need for abortion by preventing unintended pregnancies and supporting pregnant women and families (Faith in Public Life Press Release).
When they say "from across the ideological spectrum," they're not joking. We're talking about Jews, Evangelicals, and Planned Parenthood. This legislation has support from pro-life and pro-choice religious leaders, and pro-life and pro-choice secular leaders. It also has support from people like myself who indentify themselves more in the middle.
Despite the legislation having broad support, several conservative organizations and religious groups would not support the legislation and are in fact actively opposing the legislation, as well as criticizing persons who endorsed the legislation.
Commenting on the new divide that has emerged between people, William Saletan writes, "A new fault line has opened in the abortion debate. The fight is no longer between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. It's between militants and pragmatists." Even though "pro-choicers got money for contraception and sex education, [and] pro-lifers got abstinence-friendly curriculum, a bigger adoption tax credit, and financial support for women who continue their pregnancies," pro-life extremists are refusing to have anything to do with pro-choice organizations
But pro-lifers are not fooled -- a vote for either Ryan/DeLauro or the health care bill is a vote to increase abortions." Focus on the Family's activism arm, CitizenLink used a quote to tell their supporters that the legislation was about "death." I believe these statements are not only baseless, but they also represent an immoral and distorted pro-life position.
I understand not wanting to compromise or work together with your rivals, yet I believe there is an unprecedented opportunity before us to actually reduce the number of abortions in America. For over 35 years, millions of Americans have been fighting each other on abortion, and they have spent millions of dollars in the process. Meanwhile there are nearly a million abortions every year in this country. The time has come for a new approach. I hope individual pro-lifers will not stand on the sidelines or stand in the way for common ground on abortion. For to do so, I believe, would be a fatal mistake.
*You can find a 4 page summary of the legislation, as well as the full list of sponsors and their statements over at Third Way.