When Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul was asked about abortion in the tough cases of rape and incest, he volleyed back a question to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Does she support the “killing” of a “seven-pound baby that is not born yet?”
Schultz’s response: That is a decision for a woman and her doctor.
Forty-two years after Roe v. Wade, the nation’s two major parties are more entrenched than ever regarding the question of abortion rights. It is inconceivable that the Republicans would nominate a candidate who fails to support legislation protecting the rights of those in the womb. Likewise, the Democrats will not nominate a candidate who doesn’t believe in easing access to abortion in virtually all stages of pregnancy.
Charles Camosy, associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, believes the partisanship surrounding abortion is unfortunate. The truth is, most Americans occupy a middle ground — a majority that neither opposes abortion in all cases nor supports its legality for virtually any reason. In his book, “Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation,” Camosy writes that we are not in a hopeless stalemate over abortion. “A majority of Americans actually agree about broad ideas with respect to abortion morality and law.”
Camosy’s work is fresh because he wrestles not only with the morality of abortion, but also the social structures that make abortion so common. For example, Camosy shows why it is not surprising that more women than men support laws restricting abortion. Why shouldn’t they when abortion practices serve the interests of men and have resulted in a society in which a woman may often feel “expected” to abort? So much for freedom!
Camosy’s “way forward” is the Mother and Prenatal Child Protection Act. This policy does three main things: It gives legal recognition to the prenatal child, offers protection and support for the mother, and allows for certain abortive procedures in rare circumstances.
The details of the policy include changing the social structures of society so that the choice to carry a pregnancy to term is less of a burden for women today.
Camosy believes the time is ripe for change: When it comes to abortion in the second and third trimesters, the tide has turned against abortion on demand, especially among younger Americans and Hispanics.
I appreciate Camosy’s incremental approach to reducing abortion, but I am less optimistic that we are on the verge of major change. One reason public opinion is unlikely to break through the hardened positions of both parties is because the media coverage of the abortion issue is so often one-sided.
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