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There Should Be Common Ground - Even in the Abortion Debate

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Saturday marked the 38th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision establishing abortion as a constitutional right throughout the United States. Perhaps coincidentally, that anniversary capped off a week in which news events offered some hard truths about the moral compromises that abortion has forced upon Americans.

Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to The White House drew enormous coverage. Some of the most widely-reported news from the State Dinner included President Obama’s toast hailing the “beloved giant pandas” from China, which will remain at Washington’s National Zoo. Deemed significantly less newsworthy were House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) colloquy with Hu about forced abortions in China – and Hu’s denial of any forced-abortion policy in response to a written question from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

The juxtaposition is jarring. How would reporters and other Americans have reacted had there been credible reports that cute and cuddly pandas – like the ones at the zoo – had been forced to abort? One suspects that animal rights activists, environmentalists and others would have been up in arms – even though many of those same Americans (including President and Mrs. Obama) maintain a discreet silence about forced abortion of human beings by the Chinese. Could the President and First Lady have believed they had to stay silent in the face of a life-and-death human rights abuse – where “choice” plays no part for either mother or unborn child -- in order to avoid compromising their avidly pro-abortion-rights convictions?

Compared to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, however, the Obamas look like profiles in courage. Last week, it was also reported that for 17 years, the Pennsylvania department had simply ignored an abortion house of horrors within its jurisdiction – even as poor, predominantly minority women were badly injured by ghoulish abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who routinely performed third-trimester abortions, using scissors to kill babies born alive (according to the grand jury report, Gosnell kept in jars the feet of the babies he aborted). The Pennsylvania Department of State likewise ignored notices that many of Gosnell’s patients were hospitalized – some with perforated uteruses, bowels and and cervixes, often with infections and fetal remains still inside them. The state Board of Medicine likewise had declined to take action against Gosnell, despite repeated complaints.

Had poor, minority women been victimized by some other kind of criminal businessman who, like Gosnell, collected $1.8 million yearly at their expense, the response would be universal, widespread outrage -- and rightly so. Yet, because the exploitation occurred in the context of abortion, there’s a strange silence from many of those who routinely pride themselves on their disdain for “the rich” and their support for the oppressed. One well-known left-wing blogger, Amanda Marcotte, even went so far as to blame pro-lifers for the Gosnell atrocities.

Thirty-eight years after Roe vs. Wade, it’s clear that the decision has starkly divided many Americans – in fact, some say that the abortion debate is an area where it’s impossible to find any common ground. But that’s not really true. Surely, just as pro-lifers should outspokenly denounce the murder of abortion providers, pro-choicers should likewise be willing to object loudly to forced abortions – and agree (at the very least) that the “doctors” who perform third-trimester abortions, murder newborn babies, and maim their mothers are monsters.

Yes, the right to abortion found by the Supreme Court has caused heated, ugly and sometimes violent, debate on both sides. But if we are to conclude that even those who disagree with us do so in good conscience, then decent people on both sides of the abortion debate must refuse to allow evil to flourish, conveniently unremarked-upon.

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