satisfying thoughts on abortion

It’s taken me a while to find a satisfying way to think about abortion. I’ve always been pro-choice, but I’ve never been happy with either position in the debate. It’s something I’ve struggled with, and I think I finally have an opinion I like:

I don’t think of abortion as murder, but I don’t think of it as the moral equivalent of an appendectomy, either.

I don’t think of a fetus as a person, but I do think of it as the possibility of a person.

I don’t think of abortion as wrong, but I do think of it as bad.

To me, it has more the character of defeat than criminality.

I don’t have a problem with things like requiring counseling beforehand. I have a problem with doing it in a way that restricts access. “OK, now go think about it, come back in two days and we’ll peform the procedure. Oh, you can’t get another day off? Too bad for you.”

I disagree with the pro-life position, but I respect it. Pro-choice is not a slam-dunk position for me. I grew up in a feminist family, and most of the people I know are pro-choice, but the idea has never sat easily in my mind. I had to defend it to myself.
I have a bigger problem with those who agree with me on the point of law, and seem to think that’s all that matters. “But you’re still pro-choice, right?” Yes, and you’re missing the point.

I think the desperation on both sides of the issue flattens and hardens the debate into an ugly black-and-white conflict. Even ordinarily liberal folks fall into this: some pro-choice people I have known seem just as absolutistic about it as many fundamentalist Christians. And these are people who can see shades of gray in many other areas.

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