Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obama, Notre Dame, and abortion

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement speech at Notre Dame this weekend despite the controversy over his views on abortion that led some to protest his appearance. Obama stressed to the crowd that we should have an open debate on abortion, but that we could do "without reducing those with differing views to caricature."

Obama is taking the high road in defending his opinion while simultaneously showing respect to the opposition. It's characteristic of what this president is trying to accomplish on a bipartisan level: working to find common ground, giving attention to our agreements rather than our differences.

Which is precisely what we should do on the abortion debate. While conservatives like to harp on about how liberals are "baby killers," and liberals consider conservatives anti-choice and disregarding women's health issues, the noble road is to seek out what both sides can do to eliminate abortion in this country.

You heard me: we should strive to eliminate abortion in this country. I'm a liberal, but I do believe that abortion is a terrible thing. I will, however, defend a woman's right to an abortion because her body is under her control, her health and well-being her own business.

There are things we can do, however, to lower the number of abortions per year in America. As we've seen previously, hundreds of thousands of abortions can be prevented yearly through the use of public funds towards family planning clinics. Through stronger education, more access to birth control, and other means, we can lower the number of abortions performed in our country.

Hard-core conservatives will likely dismiss that idea, however, as they see funding such clinics as equivalent to funding abortion. But most of the services performed at family planning clinics are aimed at prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

Here's the big secret that conservatives either ignore or fail to realize: liberals hate abortion, too, and want to see the numbers drop as close to zero as possible. But the means toward that end should not infringe upon the rights of women. We should seek to eliminate abortion by economic means, providing services to women who may not be knowledgeable on the subject of preventative alternatives.

Abortion is a sticky subject, but no one, liberal or conservative, wants MORE of it. It's naive to believe that.

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