Can Pro-Life and Pro-Choice find common ground?

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By Ken Trainor

No one responded to my challenge/invitation to begin bridge-building two weeks ago, which pretty much confirms where we stand on the dialogue front.

Undaunted, I press on, quixotically seeking unity. The annual Roe v. Wade anniversary raises the question, "Can the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice positions ever find common ground?"

Yes, in spite of all apparent evidence to the contrary. They could even become allies.

A lot of Pro-Choice people (probably a majority) dislike abortion. But Pro-Lifers tend to alienate potential allies by their extremism?#34;and because they can't understand our position, which they find morally ambiguous.

It's not. Those of us who are Pro-Choice and Anti-Abortion oppose a legislative solution because criminalizing abortion would do more harm than good. There are better ways to address the problem.

The goal, which the Pro-Life movement frequently loses sight of, is increasing respect for life, not abolishing abortion. You can't eliminate abortion unless you eliminate the demand for it. And you won't eliminate the demand by outlawing it. Neither can legislation increase respect for life.

If respect for life increases, abortion diminishes, but if you criminalize abortion, respect for life not only won't increase, it may actually diminish.

The true moral position is to love the good, not hate the evil. Like Captain Ahab, the Pro-Life movement is guilty of an obsession with hating evil. You may win some battles with that approach, but inevitably you will lose this war.

Abortion, many Pro-Choicers admit, is cruel, ugly, and disrespectful of life. Is it murder?

I don't know. Are you supporting murder if you favor the death penalty in spite of a myriad wrongful convictions? If you oppose gun control? If you support preemptive war even after the reasons turn out to be false and possibly a deliberate fiction? If you continue to make lifestyle choices that result in the extinction of entire life forms worldwide? If you don't even realize your choices have that effect? If you don't support universal access to health care as a basic human right so that people, especially poor people, will live better and longer?

If you took the truly pro-life position on all of the above, think how much more convincing you could be with your anti-abortion argument.

Abortion ends a potential life, which is damning enough. As one half of a married couple that endured two miscarriages in three pregnancies, no, I can't in good conscience say that abortion ends a life, only a potential life. Not all preemies survive either. And given the United States' shamefully high infant mortality rate (if you're looking for another pro-life issue to tackle), not all full-term pregnancies survive either.

Abortion isn't murder, but it is wrong. And it's an ass-backward way to conduct birth control.

If you want to reduce the number of abortions?#34;a far more realistic goal than trying to eliminate them?#34;you should promote preemptive contraception. If you oppose responsible methods of birth control, then from the Pro-Choice perspective, you are thereby promoting abortion.

There may be no greater moral contradiction on the planet today.

The Pro-Life movement should join with Planned Parenthood to start an aggressive nationwide campaign delivering two messages: 1) Abortion sucks (yes, literally and figuratively). If you don't want to be haunted for the rest of your life, don't put yourself in a position to need one. 2) If you choose to be sexually active?#34;even though we don't condone it and encourage you to wait until marriage?#34;please, for the sake of yourself, your partner and a third potential life, use responsible birth control.

We can significantly reduce the number of abortions without criminalizing it. We can win the war if both sides stop demanding unconditional surrender. Together we can promote respect for life?#34;across the board.

It's your choice.

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