Thursday, June 11, 2009

Has Dr. Tiller's murder changed the terms for common ground?

I'm happy to report that the Women's Media Center asked me to write an exclusive piece for their web site.

My article begins,

On Sunday, May 17, in his speech at Notre Dame, President Obama called for all sides in the abortion debate to tone down the rhetoric, recognize that we will never fully reconcile our views, and agree to work together where we have common aims. On Sunday, May 31, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in his church. In the escalation of words and the threats of violence that followed, the President’s counsel seems both inadequate and na├»ve.

You can read the rest here.


Rachel Laser said...

An Open Letter to Rev. Debra Haffner

The abortion debate has often been fueled by anger and divisiveness. Even the road to find common ground has been rocky. We are making progress for sure, but we could be doing even better. Open debates and discussions are essential tools to begin to heal the divides, yet they cannot be constructive unless participants on all sides commit to accuracy. A recent piece by Rev. Debra Haffner misrepresents Third Way’s approach to finding common ground on abortion and labels us as a foe instead of recognizing us as the friend we are. Third Way has always supported a woman’s right to choose. As leaders in the effort to find common ground, we have always made clear that common ground does not include bans or restrictions. In fact, my recent article, “Conceiving Common Ground,” clearly states that our definition of common ground is reducing the need for abortion:

“As Third Way has always said, common ground on abortion is reducing abortions without criminalization and without coercion. A common ground abortion agenda seeks to address the root causes of abortion and thereby reduce the need for abortion. It has two policy tracks: prevention of unintended pregnancy, because almost half of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion, and support for pregnant women and new families, because one of the top two reasons women say they have abortions is that they cannot afford a child.”

As we all continue to turn the culture wars into culture conversations, let’s be sure to heed the President’s call for “Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.”

Rachel Laser
Third Way Culture Program Director

Desmond Ravenstone said...

Thank you for making the vital distinction between reducing the frequency of abortion vesus reducing the need for abortion. It's more than just common sense, but a more long-sighted and justice-centered approach.

By trying to reduce the frequency without addressing the need, we beg the question of what means will be employed. Restrictive regulations? Intrusive laws? Moralistic bullying?

Addressing the need goes to the heart of the matter, and broadens the discussion to the wider questions of justice and equality. How are such factors as poverty, education, and inequities of gender related to the frequency of unwanted pregnancy and abortion?

Common ground not only means looking for common goals, but articulating a common vision of a better world for our children and grandchildren. And if we want a more equitable world, then we need to pursue equitable means to that end, not merely expedient ones.

Debra W. Haffner said...

I want to assure Ms. Laser that the Religious Institute does not regard either Third Way or Sojourners as foes, but rather as potential collaborators. Nor did I intend for readers to connect the line about increased abortion restrictions with either of the organizations I cited. I apologize that my imprecise writing may have left that impression. I'm pleased to have Third Way affirm that it is a pro-choice organization. Its previous reports included sections titled "Reducing Abortions" that, although mentioning reducing unintended pregnancies, did not call for family planning and comprehensive sexuality education. It is good to know that Ms. Laser calls for both in her recent Huffington Post piece. The goals she cites are longstanding commitments of the pro-choice community. We would be happy to seek common ground at the tables convened by Third Way and welcome a productive collaboration.

Anonymous said...

Has common ground included pro life?