William Saletan, George Carlin, and the Decency of Chickens

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William Saletan recently took on the topic of fetal development and abortion over at Slate. In “Abortion Forever?” he argued that fetal development matters, particularly in the (very rare, he admits) cases of late-term abortion. The differences between an eight-week and a 28-week fetus matter, he says, because “the capacities that make a newborn more significant than a zygote—cognition, interaction, viability—don’t materialize overnight. They develop over many weeks. At some point, they make abortion too much like infanticide.”

Saletan continues this line of reasoning by pointing out that neural development continues for the first three years of life.  He then asks, “[i]f a woman feels that eight, 18, or 28 weeks after birth isn’t too late for her, shouldn’t we trust her judgment?” Sounds like someone’s been reading Unwind!

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Can There Be Dialogue Between Pro-Choicers and Antis? Should There Be?

Earlier this week, RH Reality Check published an article by Francis Kissling about the idea of dialogue between the pro-choice and anti-choice communities. This article was a response to one published last week by Amanda Marcotte, in which Marcotte stated that she did not believe the dialogue with anti-choicers was ever useful because “it’s impossible to have a dialogue with someone who refuses to speak honestly about their positions.”

Both Kissling and Marcotte made reference to a conference that Kissling helped organize earlier this fall. The event, held at Princeton University, was to facilitate dialogue between the anti-choice and pro-choice communities. Whether or not the conference met its goals is an open question; at the very least, it led William Saletan, a columnist for Slate, to propose a rather provocative “compromise.”

Kissling makes as strong a case in favor of dialogue as Marcotte makes against it, but I’m more inclined to agree with Kissling’s interpretation – not because I agree with everything she says, but because I think it’s time for a new approach to protecting the right to choose. Over the past three decades, the pro-choice side has won many important victories, but in too many parts of this country, abortion is legal in name only and barely accessible; the Hyde Amendment is going nowhere; and the very word “abortion” is so stigmatized. Maybe actually talking to those who disagree with us about why they feel the way they do, and looking for that common ground, isn’t the worst approach to try. [Read more...]