Abortion Common Ground: A Pro-Life Agenda
What pro-lifers can learn from the Princeton abortion conference.
By William Saletan
Nov. 16, 2010
1. Reduce the abortion rate through voluntary means. In the conference's opening session (videos of all but one session are available here), David Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, warned fellow pro-lifers that overturning Roe v. Wade wouldn't address the underlying cultural dynamics that cause abortions. The next day, Cathleen Kaveny, a professor of law and theology at Notre Dame, voiced a similar concern: "... I'm very concerned with the study in 2007 that indicated that societies which criminalized abortion did not succeed in reducing the rate of abortion."
Rather than focus on passing laws, Gushee conveyed an alternative approach:...Help women avoid pregnancies they don't want, and you'll wipe out the vast majority of abortions without having to enact a single restriction.
I don't expect pro-lifers to stop fighting for restrictions. But I did notice some of them—notably, Helen Alvare, the former spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops—using the term "pro-life" to describe the broad spectrum of Americans who are morally but often not legally opposed to abortion...
2. Subsidize maternity. Money can't buy everything. But it can make it easier to carry a pregnancy to term and raise the child...
3. Embrace contraception... Speaking of the evangelical Protestants to whom he ministers and belongs, Gushee said:
...I think it's fair to say that conservative religion is one contributing factor to the remarkably high rate of unintended pregnancies in our culture. … In my world, I sense currently a weakening of opposition to the provision of birth control and birth control information, including in the South... you could win the argument that even if one would wish that our young people were not having sex, we should tell them about birth control anyhow...
The morality of contraception is not the intrinsic problem in Protestant thought that it is in traditional Catholic moral thought...Even Christopher Kaczor, a Catholic philosopher at Loyola Marymount University, noted the vast moral difference between abortion, which in his view kills an innocent human being, and contraception, which doesn't. Honor that difference. Trade abortion for contraception.
4. Early abortions are better than late ones... From a pro-life standpoint, trading late abortions for early ones is hardly ideal. But it's better than nothing, and if you pursue it, nobody will stand in your way.
5. Choose your friends by your mission, not your mission by your friends. Camosy and Jennifer Miller, the pro-lifers who co-organized the conference, have been derided and accused of treachery by colleagues who regard any cooperation with pro-choicers as stupid or evil. Gushee has endured similar treatment. After the conference, Austin Ruse, the President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, which opposes contraception as well as abortion, mocked Camosy and Miller for being young and poorly funded and for "validating" their pro-choice collaborators...