Some thoughts on the ever-present abortion debate, and the partisanship that accompanies it, prompted by a friend's Facebook post and the ensuing discussion. This was a comment I wrote on that post:
I've often thought that abortion was a poor issue for people to be reflexively political about. We ARE talking about life, and the issue of when life begins is a very tricky one, one that is more subject to religious beliefs or emotion than it is to science. Frankly, unlike right-wing accusations, most people I know on the left are not blithely "pro-abortion". "Pro-choice" acknowledges that however one might feel about abortion, the ultimate right to make that uncomfortable choice belongs to the mother.
However, there certainly are lines. Despite being strongly pro-choice, my line is drawn earlier in the pregnancy than what is commonly termed "late-term" abortion. Unless it is to save the life of the mother, killing a fetus who could survive outside the womb should, I believe, be illegal.
Science gives various answers about when life begins, but ultimately it's a philosophical question. While I strongly oppose pro-lifers' absolutist positions, I can't just dismiss them as extremists. Their opposition may be based on religious beliefs, but "religious beliefs" is just another term for philosophy, and philosophy is, ultimately, how most of us determine when life begins. As long as they avoid obscene tactics, (like harassing women entering clinics), pro-lifers have just as valid a voice in the public debate as pro-choicers. And I would hope that pro-lifers would feel the same way about we pro-choicers.