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What Do We Prefer?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Do we prefer abortion? It's something we must ask ourselves given the election results in places like Michigan and California, where some radical changes have been made to those states' constitutions regarding abortion rights. In Montana, voters chose not to protect infants born alive in a botched abortion. Do people really believe that's OK? Has 49 years of legal abortion numbed us to violence and inhumanity?


We are living at a time with a lot of noise, a lot of pressure and tremendous confusion. And, we must remember, we live in a fallen world. Life is hard. Mistakes are made. When we have political debates, the nuances tend to go out the window. Mercy can, too.

In the best of circumstances, pregnancy and parenthood are hard. Parenthood is the most important work in the world, and yet in our society, it would seem to be an afterthought. I'm not sure we prepare anyone for it the way we should, to say nothing of offering even the bare minimum support and encouragement.

So what do we do? Making enemies of those who disagree with us on fundamentals doesn't help. Pretending there are easy solutions to the abortion debate doesn't either, because anyone who has any experience in the world knows better.

We're a nation that has had a half-century of legal abortion. In a real way, the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade in June was a trauma. Whether you consider yourself pro-life or pro-choice, we have to act and think differently. Do you right now know what you would say if your daughter or your neighbor's daughter came to you looking for help with an unexpected pregnancy? Every child puts life into a new tailspin. But isn't life important, and doesn't it deserve all the help we can give it?


We're all only human. There will always be pregnancies that weren't intended. There will always be men who use women. We must be honest and compassionate. Pro-lifers, like me have to acknowledge that there are many people in this country who are not going to see things the way we see them. I do believe abortion is the human-rights issue of our day, and that's why I continue to write so much about it.

But each side needs to meet the other halfway and find places where we do agree and can work together. How about making sure no woman or girl is pressured into an abortion? How about making sure every woman and girl knows she actually has options? Adoption isn't an easy road, but how about making clear that it isn't foster care, that it instead provides a permanent family for a child? Often, this isn't known. How about working to make a culture that celebrates birth mothers? How about being honest about the pain of abortion? How about making compromises to meet medical and financial needs in policy and as a matter of community outreach? We can't just be two intractable sides. We can't just be about numbers in the Senate or the Supreme Court and political parties. I myself am sorry for ever sounding harsh or judgmental or naive. We have a lot of work to do as a nation and as individuals.


And whatever hard decisions you've made, God bless you. Most of us are just trying our best in an imperfect world as imperfect people. Elections generally don't acknowledge that reality.

I don't think we prefer abortion. But we sure give that impression.

(Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book "A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living." She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan's pro-life commission in New York, and is on the board of the University of Mary She can be contacted at

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