One of the challenges in achieving “common ground” on abortion is that pro-lifers have a very difficult time acknowledging that those who reject their views may have moral grounds for doing so. Case in point: Michael Gerson, former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush and someone who is regarded as susceptible to the common ground appeal. In his column in today’s WaPo, Gerson makes the following statement:
If developing life is merely protoplasmic rubbish, it has the legal
claims of a cyst or a toenail. But if a politician believes life is
sacred, the destruction of more than a million lives a year cannot be
merely one issue among many.
But what about a politician who believes life is sacred but whose religion teaches that “sacred life” does not commence until the embryo is implanted in the womb–such as the Mormon Orrin Hatch, who therefore supports embryonic stem cell research? Or the Orthodox Jew who believes life is sacred and who opposes abortion at will, but whose religious law mandates abortion to save the life of the mother–that the “legal claims” of “developing life” must give way before the mother’s right to life?
Sure, there are staunch pro-lifers, like Douglas Kmiec (here interviewed by Dan Gilgoff), who are prepared to support a pro-choice president like the the present one on prudential grounds. Kmiec, of course, has been subjected to no end of obloquy from the pro-life movement. A Gerson will not be moved.