The Fog is Lifting over Common Ground on Abortion
Catholic News Service reports:
He said he has never "been under the illusion that ... we were going to simply talk all our differences away on these issues."
Obama hits exactly on the divide, since sexuality education and access to birth control are the only proven reliable methods of reducing unplanned pregnancies in any significant number, and thus the need for abortion. There has never been any disagreement about adoption reform as a good thing, and providing better circumstances for pregnant women and better infant and child care is something that very few, if any prochoice advocates, are likely to have any issue in principle. (How to get there might be another question for everyone, as we may soon see, depending on what the president proposes, and the posturing stops.) But if that is the only thing on which everyone can agree, it is unlikely to much affect the abortion rate, the common ground conversation is pretty much a bust.
Part of the concern I have had with the common ground discussion as framed by Third Way and Faith in Public Life, among others has been the marginalization and exclusion of legitimate prochoice voices, from the religious community, such as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and from the wider prochoice community, in favor of people whose perspective is a narrowly framed electoral goal of faith outreach for the Democratic Party, and the manufacture of a whole class of faux leaders and spokespeople, while leaders of historic substance and representing actual constituencies, are sidelined. Also marginalized and sandbagged are advances in and the defense of reproductive rights, LGTB civil rights, and separation of church and state in the face of ongoing onslaught from the Religious Right.
This marginalization has led to the quiet spectacle of ostensibly progressive and prochoice people not only serving as obstacles to progress, but in effect, facilitating the rollback back of the civil and human rights of others. We see this clearly in the passage of Prop 8 in California at a time when Faith in Public Life was proposterously declaring the culture wars just about over. For all of this, the electoral results of the faith outreach/common ground efforts have been been dubious at best, as Chip Berlet has shown). Meanwhile, increasing conscience clause exemptions for antiabortion and anti birth control medical providers and pharmacists; and the increasing legal barriers to abortion at the state level, and the ongoing violence and harassment, all of which has contributed to the overall decline in the number of abortion providers.
Reproductive justice advocates are calling out this situation at On The Issues magazine. Publisher and editor in chief Merle Hoffman argues that
And she sees those elements of the prochoice community involved in these discussions as on "more on the verge of capitulation than conciliation."
The fog of common groundism is lifting. And just in case anyone has forgotten what thoughtful, well informed, yet passionate and articulate discussion of reproductive justice looks like Loretta Ross offers a reminder of and a vision of reproductive justice free form the bonds of common groundism.
I think it's important for reproductive justice activists to have a serious discussion -- immediately -- about public policies, reproductive justice and President Obama's Administration.
She then lists a number of "exciting" and "historic" opportunities for reproductive justice, as well as listing some formidable challenges.
Having said all of that, I believe we need to have a discussion about how we can take advantage of this historic moment to advance a reproductive justice agenda that will benefit women, men and families of color to advance and protect their full human rights.
She concludes by stating the first we need to "say what we believe"; "say what we want", and "discuss how to get what we want."
Her essay epitomizes what a thoughtful, compelling, well informed, visionary and strategic sensibility looks like and offers a profound contrast the the diversionary mush that has too often passed for informed discourse on these matters of late.
Chip Berlet and I wrote after the election:
It would be nice if conservative White evangelicals called off the Culture Wars that they started and continue to aggressively pursue. It would be even nicer if liberal (and even some progressive) pundits stopped prematurely announcing the end of the Culture Wars and the demise of the Christian Right. Neither is likely to happen any time soon.
We have, and found it to be wanting.
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