Few, if any, political topics are as controversial as abortion — mainly because it is so difficult to find any common ground here in the United States. Yet internationally, there is more of a consensus on the subject than many people realize.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina recently appeared on ABC's "This Week" and made an observation that may come as a surprise to many abortion-rights advocates. "There are only four countries in the world that have, that legalize abortion after five months," she noted. She identified those countries as being China, North Korea, Canada and the United States.
Consider that reality in light of the furor surrounding the Texas abortion law that outlawed most abortions after 20 weeks. Opponents insisted that the Lonestar State was heading back to the Stone Age by preventing late-term abortions. Yet in France, a nation seldom regarded as a bastion of social conservatism, abortion in most circumstances is illegal after only 12 weeks. The same is true in both Germany and Greece. No European nation allows unrestricted access to abortion longer than Texas does, yet they are not the targets of the kind of heated protests we've seen here in the U.S. American abortion-rights advocates still insist that any limitations on abortion is entirely unacceptable.
The American people, however, overwhelmingly disagree.
A Gallup poll conducted in January of this year found that the French standard — 12 weeks, not 20 — is the one they think is appropriate. Fully 64 percent of respondents said that abortion ought to be illegal after the first three months of pregnancy. It's also important to note that Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in all 50 states, does not guarantee an unfettered right to terminate a pregnancy after the first trimester. Later Supreme Court decisions have modified that standard to allow the state to intervene to stop an abortion when a fetus is viable. Today, babies born at 20 weeks can survive and live to adulthood.
There's no doubt that this is a difficult issue that requires careful and principled deliberation. Yet too many abortion advocates refuse to concede any moral problems with abortion at all. This is a road fraught with peril. One need only recall the horrors revealed by the Kermit Gosnell case to see what happens when the creation of human life becomes completely unmoored from morality. Attempts to ignore abortion's ethical problems demonstrate that a great deal of the extremism in the abortion controversy is being generated from the pro-choice side of the debate.