The twenty-seventh anniversary of Roe v. Wade is coming up and I have some bad news. The abortion debate is over. For a couple of decades it was the hot topic, the subject of television debates, and flash point of political campaigns. Many a punditorial brow furrowed over "this difficult, controversial choice."
Then the public got bored and saw only two possible positions: thoughtful, regretful pro-choice and hysterical, prudish pro-life. Pro-lifers, the average person thought, did not realize life is tough and women deserve compassion. Never mind that pro-lifers began establishing free care centers to support pregnant women eight years before the Roe ruling.
Then the outrageous assassinations of abortion workers began. Peaceful pro-lifers were presumed guilty by association, and any residual feeling that fair play guaranteed them a hearing evaporated. While 15 or 20 years ago abortion opponents might be seen as reasonable-but-wrong, after these shootings they be came dangerous kooks. In fact, pro-lifers were accused of pushing murderers off the deep end by using terms like "killing unborn babies." Just as pro-lifers were about to lose their right to free speech—rendering the unstable few even more explosive—the debate ground to a halt. The curtain was rung down and the "sensitive, difficult question" escorted offstage.
It's been said that the American political attention span is two weeks long, so logging over 20 years is some thing of an achievement. During that time the movement acquitted itself well. In the early years there was a mistaken overemphasis on the rights of the unborn, based on the erroneous presumption that the average person would oppose abortion upon realizing ...1
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