The candidate walks into the jam-packed auditorium at Calvin Coolidge High School. The district he seeks to represent has elected both Republicans and Democrats. The residents are independent thinkers who are very serious about the social issues of the day. As the candidate strides up to the podium, he looks over the crowd and sees a number of pro-life and pro-choice signs. It seems evenly divided. Personally, the candidate believes abortion should be legal but has some concerns about its usage. He is truly in the middle somewhere. But the conventional wisdom says that the candidate should just put their lot into one of the camps and stick with that position. This candidate is different and tonight his goal is to defy that conventional wisdom by appealing to the activists on both sides:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’ve been asked to give you my views on the abortion issue tonight. Generally it is not an assignment that the average candidate looks forward to but I guess I’m a little different. I’ve actually been excited about this prospect.
Let me start by saying that I respect those of you who are pro-life and those of you who are pro-choice. This is probably the most controversial issue of our time and I honestly believe that all of you are well- intentioned. Unfortunately, the media loves to focus on the negative, so they will cover the extremists on both sides. That is not fair because I firmly believe that the average activist comes from a good place, has deep- seeded convictions and is not shy about expressing them. Indeed, I applaud you all for standing up for what you believe.
Now, I’m gonna be straight with you. I’m not the typical politician who tries to have it both ways. You deserve to know where I stand.
I believe abortion must remain legal in this country. To me, it is a matter of a woman’s health. I am a great student of history and, as everyone knows, before abortion was legalized in this country, many women were dying from botched, unsafe back alley abortions or were being severely harmed. We can all quibble about how many women we’re talking about but, for me, the numbers don’t matter. Women will always seek out abortions and, if that is the case, then I prefer they be safe.
At the same time, however, I think the pro-choice folks need to fess up. Abortion is a form of killing. A woman sitting in the abortion clinic waiting room has something – and you can decide what you want to call that something – in her body. It is something that, if not aborted, will ultimately become a child. It is a living organism. Indeed, if it was a wanted pregnancy, we would be calling it a “baby” from day one. Then, when the woman leaves the clinic, that organism is no longer alive. To me, that is “killing.” It’s a sad process, one that no one wants to experience. It’s a very sad fact of life.
But here’s the good news. The number of abortions in this country is decreasing. It’s hard to say what is causing that trend, but I would like to give credit to both sides of the issue. For example, the pro-choice folks like to emphasize birth control education. The pro-lifers hope to “protect” women by pointing out how some women ultimately regret their abortions. Whatever the reason, the number is going down and that is a good thing.
Now, although I support abortion, I am very concerned that some women might be getting later terms abortions for less than compelling reasons. That’s why I would support banning third trimester abortions unless the woman’s life was endangered or if there was a possibility of her experiencing severe health consequences. I don’t think a woman should have an abortion at that stage for some less-than-serious reason.
I will add that I can support the work of so-called crisis pregnancy centers as long as they are totally candid up front about their opposition to abortion. If a woman clearly understands that she is basically going into a pro-life center andshe still wants to talk to them, then go for it. I have no problem with that. In addition, I will vigorously support the right of pro-life activists to protest in front of a clinic. That is the essence of the First Amendment.
Although I support legal abortion, I am torn about the use of taxpayer’s dollars for abortions. I understand how the pro-lifers don’t want their tax dollars used to fund something that they find morally objectionable and they have all the right in the world to try to pass laws restricting the use of those dollars. Indeed, in my earlier days I supported efforts to de-fund the Vietnam War. On the other hand, I am troubled by the thought of a woman on welfare with four children not being able to use her Medicaid card for an abortion because it means we all will be paying more money to help her raise yet another (unwanted) child. It’s a tough one for me and I would like to sit down with representatives on both sides of that issue.
Abortion is not a black and white issue to me. It is very, very complicated. In the meantime, however, if I am elected to Congress I will work hard to make it easier for couples to adopt, I will support using federal dollars for contraceptives. I will support any educational effort that has the same goal as we all do – to eliminate the need for abortion in this country. I ask you all to consider supporting me. I support legal abortion but I will work as hard as anybody to eliminate the need for it.
Thank you very much.