I usually try to stay out of the abortion debate, as I feel that decisions in that minefield are best left to those born with gestational equipment. However, for anyone interested, there has been a fascinating running debate
between Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune
and Jill Stanek of the Illinois Leader
. Even if, like myself, you aren't an Illinois resident, Zorn is a good read most of the time. His columns are mostly worth reading, and he keeps a regularly updated blog
on their site. Stanek is fairly new to me, but appears to be one of the more arch-conservative anti-abortion rights players in the big leagues.
I was lead to this debate because it was posed primarily as a debate about Barack Obama. I try to be a good member of the GOP, but Alan Keyes even gives me the chills, so I'm hoping that Obama will end up being a new, moderate voice in the Senate. Stanek's opinions certainly seem to be painting him as an extremist left winger, but then again she seems to be a single issue person and I'm just not seeing that in Obama's profile.
One thing that Stanek does do, however, is take up a post in the most extreme corner possible on this issue, hurling insults across the fence, and through clever manipulation of words, paints Zorn into taking up a position on the opposite end of the beam. This is the last thing we need in this country. Jill Stanek is helping to polarize an already splintered electorate even further, when a centrist, common sense solution could be found on this issue. (As with so many others.)
I'm all in favor of a woman's right to choose over matters concerning her own body, but only up to a point that could be dictated by common sense. What would be the damage in allowing women to make that difficult choice during the first two trimesters, but then giving a potential child a fighting chance once it reaches viability? I know - defining "viability" is going to be the sticking point for most people. But it seems that the medical profession should be able to come up with some sort of general guideline as to when a fetus, if delivered, would stand a reasonable chance to survive given normal, non-extraordinary medical care and support. Once the pregnancy reaches that stage, we need to ask ourselves what the goal of the abortion procedure is. Is it to intentionally kill the child, or to terminate the pregnancy for the woman? I would hope that most women would answer the latter. And if that is the case, then delivering the child, albeit early, and letting it be put up for adoption if it survives surely accomplishes the goal as well as an abortion.
Unfortunately for the polarizing folks, no centrist answer will ever do. Abortion rights activists will scream that any legislation that ever removes the choice of abortion is the beginning of some theoretical "slippery slope" that will lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned. And Stanek, along with her ilk, will insist that any instance of abortion which is allowed is an abomination.
Whether or not you think that a fetus is "a person" (and there's another nightmare to define) the fact is that in the question of abortion, somebody's rights are going to be infringed. It will either be the rights of the pregnant woman or the fetus. Sadly, in most cases, I'm going to have to go with the woman. Zorn raises an excellent, if long used theoretical example in his debate. If a 13 year old girl is impregnated by her abusive father, and her doctors declare that carrying the child to term will result in a fair chance that she will never be able to conceive as an adult, do you let her have an abortion? Obviously you do. But Stanek never even goes so far as to answer that question.
We don't need more people polarizing this country. We need leaders (and journalists, for that matter) who are willing to challenge the system to come up with sensible, centrist answers to tough questions, even if such answers displease the extremists.