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Thursday, March 9, 2006

Last week, we blogged this in advance of a pro-choice conference held recently in D.C. to try to come up with a new pro-choice approach. One of the organizers was Frances Kissling of Catholics Who Disagree With What the Church Teaches on Abortion.

William Saletan, national correspondent for Slate and author of Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War attended the conference and writes about it in today's Slate.

The conference seems to have given Saletan pause about the pro-choice movement's ability to grasp how voters feel how abortion.

You really have to read the whole article.

Here are the excerpts that jumped out at me:

It was clear at Friday's meeting that many pro-choice activists go further. They're absolutists about relativism. They argue that abortion is good because it's what a woman wants, and that the goodness or badness of abortion depends entirely on her choice. They insist all choices must be "respected" and "free from stigma." I don't get it. If everything has to be respected, what's the value of respect?
The fact that these activists are falling back on the "all choices must be respected" rhetoric suggests that on some level they are aware that most people don't and won't respect a number of specific, actual abortion choices. If they thought they could generate a sense of genuine respect for the actual choice, they'd go there. It's because they know this won't wash for most voters that they go to the "all choices must be respected" argument. As Saletan points out, none of these people actually support all choices that humans make, so it's a little...odd...for them to say that all abortion choices must be respected.

The absolute relativists in the room found these words unacceptable, since they "stigmatize" and "pass judgment" on women and doctors. (As far as I can tell, women who have abortions, and doctors who perform them, are more judgmental about the act than the movement's leaders are.)
Interesting about the doctors who perform them...I wonder what Saletan has heard from them?

Fortunately, repression, even when practiced by the left, doesn't work. Again and again, participants who decried stigma, judgment, and overt advocacy of fewer abortions went on to concede that some women find abortion "sad" or that pro-choice policies on birth control and sex education reduce the abortion rate. Advocates who work with post-abortion women were the most explicit. One described the abortion dilemma as "awful." Another called for more stories of women who, while regretting their own abortions, wouldn't deprive others of the choice.
I wonder if Saleton misheard that. Women like the folks at Exhale, who were at this meeting, advocate getting out stories from women who were "sad" about their abortions, not women who "regret" their abortions. There's a big difference. See last year's pro-choice Our Truths for the I-was-sad-for-awhile-until-I-realized-it-was-really-the-only-choice-and-one-which-I-will-never-regret perspective.

Glad one of them got in the word "awful", though. That captures more of how the women I know feel about their abortions.

Saletan says of the public's changing views (toward greater uneasiness about abortion):

In part, it's being driven by the truth of women's experiences.
In all the work I've seen from Saletan, he himself hasn't done much at all to communicate "the truth of women's experiences". I hope he'll start. What's amazing is how the truth is filtering out there, person-to-person, in a very underground way.

HT: JJ with "Highway to the Danger Zone."

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