Vote tolerance in abortion debate

By Dan Streib

This year, I’m voting for the party that’s the most tolerant of dissenting views on abortion. I’m voting Republican.

It’s the best kept secret in all of Washington that it’s really the conservatives who have consistently held the more moderate position in the abortion debate. Generally, many impartial observers see nothing other than two sides duking it out in a never-ending feud that they want nothing to do with.

Now I personally do have some partisan views on abortion. But with the economy being the prescient issue this year, it seems that an announcement of my relatively unoriginal positions would do my readers little to no good. For people who are truly undecided between McCain and Obama (and don’t know who would be better for the economy), any issue could make a difference this election. And given that many “undecideds” might prefer a tolerant stance on an issue they don’t have much of an opinion about – I made up my mind to make my case for Republican tolerance on issues of life and choice.

It just so happens that whether you choose pro-life (anti-abortion) or pro-choice (pro-legality of abortion), you’re going to be intolerant. Obviously, I’m not talking about toleration of abortion occurrence here. That rests with the pro-choice camp. And such “tolerance” really amounts to making a moral judgment that abortion is alright enough to be allowed. If you don’t hold that view (or don’t know what view you hold), such an effort at tolerance is really making an unintended moral decision.

No, the tolerance I’m talking about is the only true type of tolerance – the type that treats the opposing views as equal. In other words, I’m talking about truly not taking a stand on the issue. In reality, both sides are equally intolerant of the other – they are, after all, opposing views.

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For example, if you think that abortion is a serious enough wrong to be made illegal, then you would have to advocate a policy that would not allow for the occurrence of abortions – an intolerant view.

However, far from being the epitome of tolerance, those that favor legalized abortion favor a policy that naturally allows no room for the possibility that abortion is wrong enough to be prosecuted – likewise an intolerant view.

Is intolerance necessarily a bad thing? No. If I decide that I hold the opinion that gravity exists, I am making an exclusive claim about reality – a claim that excludes the possibility that gravity does not exist. If Congress had to pass a resolution affirming the existence of gravity, would such a law be intolerant of people who don’t believe in gravity? Yes. But that’s just nature of opposing claims and legislation. It’s nothing to get frustrated about.

Well, pre-Roe v. Wade, the decision on whether or not to allow abortion was made democratically on a state by state basis. Roe, however, legalized abortion for the whole country, and thus forced one side’s morality on the rest of the nation. It ended the federal government’s policy of tolerance.

Republicans want a repeal of Roe v. Wade. Such a repeal would merely send the decision back to the states and would be tolerant. This wouldn’t end the controversy – both sides are too adamant now. But it would lessen it, as those who favor one side have a better chance of living in a community with laws favorable to their point of view.

And one major upshot is that the issue would no longer be national (from a political perspective). That would mean that each party would no longer need a national stance. This would open the door for pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans. Keep in mind that whenever an issue becomes less partisan, it becomes more rationally discussed.

So a tolerant government policy on abortion and a future of greater rational discourse are what is in store if you vote Republican on the abortion issue. What’s wrong with this? Nothing. So hurry up and vote conservatives into office if this issue is a dealbreaker for you.

Dan is a junior in political science who is freaked out by the “B” incident.