I continually read polemic letters in this newspaper against abortion rights. Occasionally, we see letters from those in favor of a liberality of such rights. I’m in the middle.
Genuine compromise on the basic issue of abortion between those morally opposed to any right to a legal abortion from the moment of conception onward and those who favor some such right is impossible. One side considers abortion an option that ought to exist to remedy an unfortunate situation; the other side considers it the murder of a human. There’s no moral middle ground on which to meet.
By my lights, an entity of one or a few thousand cells is barely more a human being than are eggs and swimming sperm prior to conception. On the other hand, a developed fetus that could possibly maintain independent life outside the womb comes close enough that it’s reasonable to accord it consideration. Human gestation takes nine months; five months seems ample time for a woman to discover her pregnancy and decide about maintaining it. After that and absent a genuine threat to her health or knowledge that the fetus is gravely defective, I’m comfortable with legally forcing her to continue.
If moral compromise is impossible, political compromise isn’t, and that’s not a dirty choice in a democracy. The status quo of Roe vs. Wade is a reasonable political middle ground. Per national polls, most folks favor some level of abortion rights. So a reasonable political compromise for the USA is some semblance of what we currently have: Establish legal boundaries against late-term abortion, allow women authentic legal access to abortion services before that without governmental interference, and let people decide for themselves. Incidentally, for moral issues with large constituencies on each side, keeping government out of folks’ private business as much as possible and out of religious enforcement entirely should be the politically conservative position.