Pro-choice IS the moderate position

25 Oct 2012 10:53 am
Posted by: Donna

mod·er·ate (mdr-t)
1. Being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme: a moderate price.
2. Not violent or subject to extremes; mild or calm; temperate: a moderate climate.
3. a. Of medium or average quantity or extent.
b. Of limited or average quality; mediocre.
4. Opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion.
One who holds or champions moderate views or opinions, especially in politics or religion

One thing that worries me when pro-choicers (rightfully) attack antis like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock for their ghastly views on rape and victims who are impregnated that it creates the opportunity for guys like Mitt Romney and Jeff Flake to put on the concerned face and assure everyone that they support exceptions for rape and incest. They do this despite numerous statements and (in Flake’s case) votes in Congress to the contrary. But they can count on the mainstream news reporters not subjecting them to much scrutiny on their conflicting statements. And because they’re running for office in the entire United States (Romney) or a purplish state like Arizona (Flake), a lot of pundits and establishment people have a vested interest in allowing them to look “moderate” on this polarizing issue.

But that’s not a moderate position! What the “exceptions for rape and incest” people are saying is that women who have consensual sex are a priori consenting to having to carry a pregnancy to term. That’s not moderate! To put this in the correct perspective let’s consider the two extreme positions on abortion:

Extreme anti-abortion: No abortion under any circumstance.

Extreme pro-abortion: All pregnancies shall be terminated, with no exceptions.

The former position is simply hideous, and causes untold misery everywhere in the world that it is the policy. But lots of people do hold that position here in the US, including elected officials, candidates, and people in positions of authority. Many more are awfully close to that extreme, favoring exceptions for the woman’s life only, or her health and life. And then there are those who favor those narrow exemptions plus exemptions for rape and/or incest. Which means they are for banning abortion in the vast majority of cases. They will never explain how, exactly, such a ban will be enforced. Nor will they explain how the few exceptions they’ll allow will be determined.

The latter position is grotesque and ridiculous, as it would essentially call for the end of the human race, and no serious person holds it. Moreover, no one I’m aware of in the US with any kind of public platform holds a position anywhere close to that. What would that look like, anyway? Allowing a few pregnancies to continue provided prospective parents pass rigorous exams? Allowing pregnancies that are the result of rape to continue if the woman desires? After all, if the conception occurred against her will then she wasn’t trying to conceive, right? People often joke wryly about requiring licenses to be a parent but, in reality, putting something like that in place would be completely unworkable and unfair. China’s one-child policy has been a human rights nightmare, and is often (ironically) held up by the anti-abortion movement to justify their goals. In modern America there simply is no recognizable anti-birth movement. When anyone starts blathering about “extremes on both sides” of the abortion issue ask them to describe the “extreme pro-abortion” position and identify prominent people or groups who hold it. They can’t.

So what is a moderate position on abortion then? Well, what if abortion were legal and on demand in the early stage of pregnancy? Legal and available in the second trimester but with some restrictions with the well-being of the woman in mind? And then restricted further in the third trimester considering the viability of the fetus but also taking into account the health and safety of the woman? I suppose it wouldn’t make the extreme and extreme-ish anti-abortion people happy, since they don’t want to allow abortions in general. But what I’ve described is exactly what Roe v Wade laid out.

For all the legal criticism Roe v Wade has gotten over the years, the medical basis of it is pretty sound. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions have chipped away at it, always in the direction of the anti-abortion crowd, but the main framework is tenuously holding. What the antis are trying to do is steer the country further and further toward the most extreme position on abortion. They are pushing to redefine the moderate position to “exceptions for rape and incest” and we cannot allow them to get away with that. There are countries in the world right now with total bans on abortion. The vast majority of them are not good places to live. The pro-choice position, with limitations established by Roe v Wade is woman-centered, pragmatic, and conducive to a modern functioning society. We ARE the moderates on this issue and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


  1. Comment by AZVoter on October 25, 2012 11:52 am

    Wonderfully stated and I agree with you 100%.

  2. Comment by mike slater on October 25, 2012 1:34 pm

    Donna, Arizona is a red state except for the southern part.

  3. Comment by Suzanne on October 28, 2012 12:19 pm

    “They are pushing to redefine the moderate position to “exceptions for rape and incest” and we cannot allow them to get away with that.”

    Agreed and what is worse, in my opinion, are right wing attacks on birth control and Planned Parenthood.

    In 2010 Julia Whitty wrote an article for Mother Jones with the question ‘Who’s to Blame for the Population Crisis’ Last year Julia did a follow up interview with Phillip Longman on PBS. The interview is an interesting contrast of ideas about economics and population growth.
    A shortened version of the interview can be seen here:

  4. Comment by Timmys Cat on October 28, 2012 4:33 pm

    I wonder if the tactics and legislation the so called Pro-Lifers use and gotten passed could be used by anti-death penalty proponents against state authorized executioners? Not the execution itself, the person or persons involved in the actual death.
    Why should there be hurdles and possible arrest for abortion doctors and not these people?

  5. Comment by Timmys Cat on October 28, 2012 4:35 pm

    Donna, Arizona is a Western state, except for the Eastern half.

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