Monday, May 02, 2005


Sometimes language can be so inadequate.

One place where I think the words truly fail is the topic of abortion. People are so hung up on choice vs life, that both sides are missing the goal.

There's the old mantra of "safe, legal and rare." It's a nice start, but I don't think it works, because it leaves too much wiggle room on the "how" of making it rare. The pro-life camp believes that creating criminals and punishing them is the best path to rarity; the pro-medical-privacy camp believes that providing contraception and education is the best path to rarity. But both are inadequate to the goal.

I think we need to make it clear what we're all really trying to accomplish when we say the word rare, and I think that would make a world of difference. I'm leaning toward:


That word - unecessary - points to the path to take.

I bet both sides could agree that unecessary would be ideal. Except for some true zealots, I think most people on all sides believe that are at least rare occasions in which it might be necessary (for example: rape, incest, and the life of the mother).

And so much falls out of that one word - Unecessary. Not only the obvious, like better education and pregnancy prevention products, but also the less obvious:

  • Research to prevent birth defects;

  • Keeping poisons out of our air and water, further preventing birth defects;

  • Quality pre-natal care for all women, so their lives might not become jeopardized;

  • Fighting poverty, to ensure no woman has to face an agonizing decision between financial survival and paying the costs associated with bringing a child into the world;

  • Creating support networks and shifting societal attitudes to truly support new mothers, regardless of circumstance, so they won't feel the need to abort out of shame;

  • Rape and incest prevention, to ensure that children are not the despised byproduct of personal tragedy.

I'm sure that more good could come from the small shift of that one word.

From now on, for me, the ultimate goal is:

Safe, Legal, Unecessary


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