No Need for Abortion

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Last summer, Democrats tossed a little bone to pro-lifers when they put some language on abortion reduction into their pro-choice platform plank. But despite the efforts of the pro-lifers who had a seat at the drafting table, the plank cast it as a goal to “reduce the need for abortions.” And that’s been the Obama administration shorthand for describing its approach to the issue. But occasionally there’s been a longhand version that’s less objectionable to the pro-life community, which denies that there can ever be a (legitimate) need for an abortion.

Earlier this week, Gilgoff quoted Deirdre McQuade of the Catholic bishops conference as saying:

The phrase “reducing the need for abortion” is not a common-ground
phrase. We would say that there is no need for abortion, that abortions
are signs that we have not met the needs of women. There is no
authentic need for abortion.

Yesterday, in a meeting with Catholic journalists, Obama seemed to respond to the criticism with by summoning his abortion reduction longhand:

I would be surprised if those who believe abortion should be legal would object to language that says we should try to reduce the circumstances in which women feel compelled to obtain an abortion. If they took that position, I would disagree with them. I don’t know any circumstance in which abortin is a happy circumstance or decision, and to the extent that we can help women avoid being confronted with a circumstance in which that’s even a consideration, I think that’s a good thing.

I would be surprised if McQuade would deny that “reducing the circumstances in which women feel compelled” is a common-ground phrase (not, of course, that she would go along with Obama’s support for contraception as a means by which the circumstances can be reduced). But can you write it on a bumper sticker?

  • Rob Winslow

    President Obama has purportedly said, “I don’t know any circumstance in which abortion is a happy circumstance or decision.”
    I think he’s wrong.
    I would think there’s at least one circumstance in which abortion is a happy happening. That would be in the case of pregnancy by rape.
    Just as I would happily accede to a surgical procedure under general anesthesia to remove a cancer that was attacking my body, I imagine a woman pregnant by rape would be happy to undergo a less serious procedure under local anesthesia to rid herself of the physical consequences of the violation of not only her body, but also of her mind and spirit.
    Abortion may sometimes (or most times) be a wrenching decision for a woman. Various testimony and logic lead to the conclusion it is not always so.

  • Mark Silk

    Perhaps “happy” in the sense of fortunate, to the extent that a woman in that position feels relieved and grateful at being able to terminate such a pregnancy.

  • Emily

    I take “I don’t know any circumstance in which abortion is a happy circumstance or decision” to mean that nobody is ever happy in circumstances where they require an abortion– and women frequently feel guilty about making the decision, I’m sure, even when it’s a medical necessity or the result of rape. Even if safe access to abortion could make one happier in a dire situation, we’d all be happier if these situations didn’t happen in the first place.