Let's Make an Abortion Deal
Four recommendations for Obama's common-ground talks.
3. Extremism. The Times report includes this comment from a pro-choice participant:
Tiller's death is a "massive setback" in the search for common ground, said Cristina Page, a New York City author and abortion rights advocate. "It's sort of like having a family member murdered and then being asked to make nice with the assassin's family. It's unnatural."
Dear Ms. Page and other pro-choicers: Imagine some lunatic going to Kansas and murdering the head of a pro-life pregnancy center. Imagine reading in the newspaper that the pro-lifers you've been meeting with are now reluctant to "make nice" with you because, they say, the murderer is part of your "family." You would go ballistic, and rightly so. Please show the other side the same fairness you would expect.
Look at the president. Instead of portraying Muslims as family members of terrorists, he's reaching out to them so that they won't become or support extremists. You would do well to treat pro-lifers the same way.
4. Financial purism. According to the Times, "Already, those who oppose abortion say that Obama's rhetoric on compromise has been undercut by his actions, including the appointments of high-profile abortion supporters and moves that include restoring U.S. funds for foreign groups that do abortions."
Dear pro-lifers: A ban on funding reproductive health groups that perform abortions is too much to demand. If you want to fight direct funding of abortions, fine. But the indirect funding Obama restored is hardly radical. The ban he overturned blocked funding of any organization that even answered women's questions about how or where to get an abortion. You can't stop government funding of anybody who's connected to anybody who does abortions. It's impossible. Stop quarreling about indirect funding, and focus instead on the most direct question: preventing abortions. You might even discover that the most efficient way to prevent abortions in the long term is to fund the family planning organizations you keep trying to defund.
These four points won't settle the abortion debate, but they'd be a good start. Take a cue from the president, and give it a try.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.