Pro Moderatione

I strongly dislike the terms ‘pro-choice,’ ‘pro-life,’ and ‘reproductive rights.’ The implication is ineluctable: opponents of abortion are taking a negative stand against freedom whereas supporters are taking a negative stand against life. The former are benighted fundamentalists obsessed with telling women what to do and the latter love killing babies. Very little ground is left for the assumption that some elements on both sides are in good faith advancing positive arguments over competing conceptions of freedom and justice. cf. Gay marriage.

Admittedly, abortion is a topic on which consensus is philosophically elusive. If you believe life begins at conception, you’re unlikely to accommodate the termination of a fetus. If you believe life begins at viability, you’re equally unlikely to tolerate the state’s perceived violation of a woman’s privacy without the existence of a compelling public interest (i.e. preventing murder).

But within this context it’s nihilistic to vilify someone for doing that which they think is right. Shelby Foote was right. Americans like to think of themselves as uncompromising, but our true genius is for compromise and peaceful coexistence. Our whole government is founded upon it. Consider Roger Williams, Pragmatism, and Jefferson’s insistence that it injured him not one whit if his neighbor worshipped no god or twenty.

When that capacity falters, bad things happen. Like Antietam.


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