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November 19, 2008 / beidson

Opposing Agendas Seek Middle Ground: Ne’er the Twain Shall Meet

Election aftershocks are continuing to split the common ground upon which many evangelicals used tobaby6 unite.  The abortion debate rages on and it appears that a new camp is gaining support.  Some pro lifers are now willing to put aside their resistance to abortion legislation, instead focusing on reducing the number of abortions.  This, they say, is a more realistic goal, especially in light of the fact that abortion is still legal after decades of opposition, and with Barack Obama’s election, it seems legislation will not get any more favorable.  The obvious solution then would be to reach across the aisle to the pro choicers and work together to reduce the number of abortions.  But can this really happen?

Some think it can.  The Washington Post reports:

Frustrated by the failure to overturn Roe v. Wade, a growing number of antiabortion pastors, conservative academics and activists are setting aside efforts to outlaw abortion and instead are focusing on building social programs and developing other assistance for pregnant women to reduce the number of abortions.

This frustration is causing many evangelical pro lifers to begin to step closer to the line which divides them from pro choicers, and they are hoping that pro choicers will do the same.  The article continues:

“We are not compromising our values, but at the same time we are finding a way we can all accomplish our agenda, or at least a piece of our agenda, together,” said [Joel] Hunter, pastor of Northland in Longwood, Fla., one of the nation’s largest churches, and a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals. “There’s got to be a way we can take some of these hot-button issues and cooperate, rather than simply keep fighting and becoming gridlocked in this hostility of the culture wars.”

This “middle ground” is where many evangelicals are beginning to pitch their tents in an effort to end the culture war which is abortion, and move toward a more realistic plan for change.  And herein lies the problem.  Who’s moving in this debate?  You can be sure the abortion rights groups are not moving toward middle ground, because that is not their agenda.  To give up ground would be, for them, to give up the fight.  Abortion rights activists are not seeking to reduce the number of abortions because they see no problem with abortion.  They are only seeking a reduction in the numbers who oppose their agenda.  And it is for precisely this reason that they may see this new move toward middle ground by evangelicals to be another victory for them.

Pastor Hunter remarked that those like himself were not compromising their values, but it is hard to see how you can move to middle ground without compromise.  Compromise is the whole point of any middle ground argument.  Unfortunately in this case, the compromise is not abstract, but physical.  Since the goal of zero abortions was too great of a demand, middle ground evangelicals are now willing to concede a few abortions.  But this logic is absurd.  If the goal is always fewer abortions, then the goal is still zero.  And if the goal is still zero, why concede at all?  The “fewer abortions” argument fails because it does not value choice or life enough to fight for either.  It is a lukewarm position at best, a pseudo-solution of sorts.

This is why there is no middle ground in this debate because only one side is willing to move, and do so at the cost of human dignity.  To concede that we should not be fighting for zero abortions but fewer is to move past any supposed middle ground onto the turf of an opposite ideology.  Advocates for this position are simply pro choicers who hope that some people will still be pro life, though they themselves are not willing to be any longer.  The irony is evident.  These two sides will never meet in the middle.  To do so would be to make the wrong choice for one side, and to give up life for the other.  In reality, only one side is gaining any ground.  And the other side seems more than willing to move on to greener pastures.

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See article “Some Abortion Foes Shifting Focus From Ban to Reduction”

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