Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Zero-Sum Affair (by Phila)

Kathryn Jean Lopez weeps for the vanished glory of the Global Gag Rule:
The policy presented overseas health organizations with a choice: They could accept federal American cash and discourage abortion or they could refuse the needed funds and do as they wished. That's surely far from draconian.
It's no more draconian than the average act of bribery, or the typical protection racket, I suppose. Lopez also notes that the policy had "nothing to do with jailing or hurting women"; clearly, any woman who feels "hurt" by the policy must be malingering or worse.

All of which is par for the course. What's new to me in Lopez's article is this:
[T]he debate over the Mexico City Policy doesn't have to be a zero-sum affair. As Republican Chris Smith, the most ardent anti-abortion advocate in Congress, put it shortly after Obama issued an executive order overturning the policy: "The Mexico City Policy represents common ground." In fact, Democrat Bart Stupak joined Smith in an attempt to reinstate the policy.
This is one of those paragraphs that makes even the most hardened blogger feel lightheaded and weak in the knees. There's nothing complicated about tearing it apart, in logical terms, and yet I have to pause before it for a moment in almost superstitious awe, as I might before a geyser in the world's largest hog-waste lagoon.

Obviously, "the most ardent anti-abortion advocate in Congress" is not the ideal person to decide what constitutes "common ground" on abortion. Obviously, the fact that a vicious anti-choice stooge like Stupak agrees with a vicious anti-choice stooge like Smith doesn't herald a new era of post-partisan cooperation. But what I like best here is the claim that we can avoid "a zero-sum affair" by allowing Smith and Stupak to model proper negotiating behavior for us. If those on Smith's side can acknowledge that abortion is murder, and those on Stupak's side can agree, surely the rest of us can put aside our partisanship and walk together with these Good Men towards a brighter day?

That's Lopez's hope, and this is her prayer:
The Mexico City Policy doesn't deserve its bad rep. I look forward to the day where it isn't treated as the ball in a partisan ping-pong game and we can have an honest debate about it.
Simple enough. It's just a matter of getting all the players on her side of the net.