You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.
27 January 2005

We’re all a bit suprised, Andrew

From the mouth of Andrew Sullivan, over at

Hillary Rodham Clinton is
absolutely right. I’ve waited many years to write that sentence, but,
hey, if you live long enough. … I’m referring to her superb speech
earlier this week on the politics and morality of abortion. There were
two very simple premises to Clinton’s argument: a) the right to legal
abortion should remain, and b) abortion is always and everywhere a
moral tragedy. It seems to me that if we are to reduce abortions to an
absolute minimum (and who, exactly, opposes that objective?), then
Clinton’s formula is the most practical. Her key sentences: “We can all
recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic
choice to many, many women. … The fact is that the best way to reduce
the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies
in the first place.”

Echoing her husband’s inspired notion that abortion should be “safe,
legal, and rare,” the senator from New York seemed to give new emphasis
to that last word: “rare.” Hers is, in that respect, a broadly pro-life
position. Not in an absolutist, logically impeccable fashion–which
would require abolishing all forms of legal abortion immediately–but
in a pragmatic, moral sense. In a free society, the ability of a woman
to control what happens to her own body will always and should always
be weighed in the balance against the right of an unborn child to life
itself. And, if she and the Democrats can move the debate away from the
question of abortion’s legality toward abortion’s immorality, then they
stand a chance of winning that debate in the coming years….

In some ways, this does not mean a change of principle. Democrats can
still be, and almost certainly should be, for the right to legal
abortion. But, instead of beginning their conversation with that right,
they should start by acknowledging a wrong. Abortion is always wrong.
How can we keep it legal while doing all we can to reduce its damage?
Call it a pro-life pro-choice position. And argue for it with moral
passion. If you want to win a “values” debate, it helps to advance what
Democrats value. And one of those obvious values is the fewer abortions
the better. Beyond the polarizing rhetoric, a simple message: saving
one precious life at a time.

The moral positions on abortion hardly seem restricted to “pro-life” and “pro-choice.”

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.