Out of the Mainstream

I interview Jim Wallis after a speaking engagement recently, and he made an interesting comparision between Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association. Both embrace a "take no prisoners approach." The NRA won't accept any reasonable restriction of guns--say assault rifles--for fear that will lead to the banning of all guns. Planned Parenthood, he added, won't accept any reasonable restriction of abortion, or talk about ways to reduce abortion rates--out of fear that will lead to a ban on abortion.

Neither approach advances what Wallis called, "the Common Good."

He said the something similar--at least on abortion--to the Boston Globe, in a piece with the comic book title, The Amazing True Story of the Liberal Evangelical

 And abortion is a serious moral issue, and pro-life and pro-choice must come together to try to dramatically reduce this terrible abortion rate by focusing on teenage pregnancy and adoption reform, and supporting lower-income women economically. There is so much that we can do for solutions, not just symbolic litmus tests on the right and the left.

I don't think Wallis has convinced my friend Stan Guthrie over at Christianity Today, at least not from this interview.

He appears though to have convinced Cokie Robets of NPR. Either that, or they both have reached the same conclusion.

Here's some of an exchange between Roberts and Renee Montagne on Morning Edition, about the election of Howard Dean as Democratic National Committee chair.

Cokie Roberts: The reason that Dean got the job tells you one of the problems that the Democrats have. Congressional leaders, people who actually have to get elected weren’t happy with the prospect, but the candidate who had their tacit support, Tim Romer, former congressman from the Red State of Indiana, a member of the September 11 commission, couldn’t get to first base because he is pro-life on abortion, and the party litmus test on that issue is making it very tough for Democrats to reach out.

Renee Montagne: Ttalk about a litmus test for abortion… You are not suggesting that the Democrats move away from their abortion rights stance?

Cokie Robert: No, but they’ve got to find a way to not be so rigid on it. Senator Hillary Clinton from New York has started to make comments along those lines, of trying to find common ground between prolife and pro-choice groups, and that caused tremendous upset in the prochoice community.

Cokie Roberts:The idea that the Democrats have to fight every restriction –parental notification, objecting to late term abortions, put them really as out of the mainstream as the Republican position that abortion should be outlawed puts Republicans out of the mainstream.

What’s happened in recent years is that Republicans have found a way to talk about the issue that sounds a lot more mainstream—objecting to what’s called partial birth abortions, and having the vote on that, and so they are able to kind of put it aside and move on to another whole set of policy initiatives.

There really ought to be some common ground here. When one of out six preganancies ends in an abortion, as happens in the US, there's something very wrong. Something that needs fixing, not embracing as something positive, as a recent piece on Salon seemed to do.


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