Where Common Ground Gets Shaky
By Gloria Feldt on April 08, 2009
First, please read for yourself Rachel Laser's "Conceiving Common Ground" over at the website RHRealityCheck (btw, if you don't already have RHRC on your bookmarked blog list, do it now; they provide exellent information and provocative articles like this one every day.)
of times through the 30 years I worked for Planned Parenthood and in
the several years since, there have been efforts to find the so-called
"third way" or "common ground". I've had the privilege to be involved
in some profound conversations with people who come from a wide range
of pro- and anti-choice perspectives. I learned a great deal from them
and they helped me shape or sometimes deepen my own convictions by
Somehow, though, these efforts fail on three points, and the quest for the third way becomes a fool's errand.
- First, they overlook the fact that the movement for reproductive rights, health, and justice has alway started with initiatives to get universal access to birth control and related preventive health services. So, as Amanda Marcotte pointed out in her post to Rachel's article and some of the comments it engendered, the "third way" is "standard issue pro-choice".
they fundamentally break off at the point where those who oppose
abortion must make the leap to respect the moral view of those of us
who are pro-choice just as they demand we respect theirs. Yes, we have
a moral view, and for many of us it comes straight from our religious
views too. Respecting other people's moral views is also standard issue
- And finally, speaking of respect, (why do I
want to don Aretha's hat here?), the common ground they find inevitably
seems to require that women are in some way shamed or demeaned, and
that abortion be deemed ipso facto a bad thing. Which begs the
question of why so many women say it saved their lives, and indeed begs
the question of whether women's lives have value in the first place.
I responded to Amanda's post and Rachel's article as follows, and I'd be pleased to know whether you agree--have at it:
Indeed, Amanda. Thank you for saying what needs to be said with clarity and conviction.
Who the heck do they think invented the idea of prevention anyway? It sure wasn't the people who lambaste abortion and/or self-righteously suggest women should be shamed for choosing abortion.
rhetoric used against abortion today is the same as was used against
birth control in the early days of the movement before abortion was
legal. In fact, the rhetoric is quite similar to that used to oppose
women's suffrage andwomen's equality in general if you probe history a
bit. That's why we need to make women's human rights central to the
conversation and quit all this dancing on the head of a pin.
I appreciate RHRealityCheck giving a platform to a wide range of people expressing various prochoice positions, but I must say I find Rachel's
article enormously disrespectful of women and (her own included) moral
agency as well as far out of touch with the realities of women's lives
and the decisions they make in all good conscience for themselves and
their families. I'm speaking from the frontline, having heard thousands of women's stories. They made me humble enough not to judge
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