With all the debate and vitriol (on both sides) about the Center for Medical Progress and Planned Parenthood, it occurs to me that we’re missing a chance for action amidst all the fighting.


Abortion is a hot button issue. There’s no doubt about it. There are people who believe that life begins at conception and there are people who believe life begins somewhere between conception and birth. I’m not sure that particular issue can be resolved in a lifetime – or even generations.


But it’s surprising to me that some of the groups and individuals passionately holding either set of beliefs can’t find more common ground. With all the challenges that women face with respect to reproductive health and economic/family security, it seems like a waste of time to fight over an issue that probably doesn’t have a solution.


So what are some things that pro-choice and pro-life or abortion rights and anti-abortion activists could talk about? Here are just a few ideas:


  • Women should be empowered to make choices about when they get pregnant. According to Upstream, “research showed that when women were able to choose the method they wanted with excellent, patient-centered counseling, in an environment where every option was free, women overwhelmingly chose IUDs and implants, the most effective methods of contraception. They were also more satisfied with their choice, stayed with it longer than other methods, and told their friends about these new methods they had never been told about before.” This approach benefits all women, and has nothing to do with abortion.


  • All women should have access to prenatal care, regardless of income or where they live. Duh, right? But not the case in the United States. According to America’s Health Rankings, nearly 30% of American women do NOT receive adequate prenatal care, resulting in a whole range of risks for both mother and baby. This is unacceptable, and something we can fix together.


  • Raising children is hard – emotionally, physically, and economically – and we need better systems and supports for all kinds of families. When universal preschool is still a pipedream in many locations and employers don’t typically offer leave or flexibility for working parents, it’s no wonder that raising a child is challenging. Whether a rural evangelical Christian or an urban atheist progressive, we can all do more to create the villages needed to raise children.


Personally, I believe that women should have the choice to terminate their pregnancies up to the point of reasonable viability. At the same time, I know that abortion is both physically and emotionally challenging – not ever an easy choice to make. And I also have to respect the people whose beliefs guide them to protecting life from conception – these are not evil people, they are good, kind-hearted people who live according to their spiritual principles. These are uncomfortable truths. But discomfort shouldn’t prevent us from working together to come up with solutions.


What would you add to this list? If you are passionate on one side of this issue, can you find places of common ground with others?


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