In the New Congress, It’s Time for Common Ground on Abortion

December 21st, 2006



It is nearly time for a new year, and with it, a new Congress, with a new majority and a new opportunity on the hot-button cultural issue of our times—abortion. The Ryan-DeLauro common ground abortion bill introduced this year, which underscores the importance of reducing abortions (while leaving the right to have an abortion in tact), gets it right. Below find some of the many reasons that the Ryan-DeLauro Bill should be a priority for the new Democratic leadership.

The Ryan-DeLauro Legislation is a Bill for the Majority: The “Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act” brings pro-life and pro-choice members together for the first time on legislation that directly addresses abortion. It finds a practical and common-ground approach to unite the progressive caucus and reflects the big tent of the new majority. It could reach the President’s desk.

Here’s why we think the Ryan-DeLauro bill is a winner:

  • It signals a clear new progressive direction on abortion that speaks to “Abortion Grays”: The vast majority of Americans (63%) are “Abortion Grays”—those who think that abortion should be mostly legal or mostly illegal. In the 1996, 2000 and 2004 elections, Abortion Grays, though they lean pro-choice, voted consistently for pro-life conservatives. This legislation:
  • It uses the message of “reducing abortions while protecting personal liberties,” which acknowledges the moral complexities the vast majority of Americans associate with this issue while upholding progressive ideals.
  • It breaks new ground by marrying prevent and support policies, clearly demonstrating that progressives care about both sides of the choice.
  • It meets the abortion question head-on: Progressives must define themselves on abortion, lest they be defined. The “Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act” enables progressives to define themselves as being for reducing abortions in America through reasonable and effective measures (preventing unintended pregnancies and supporting pregnant women and parents).
  • It calls the opposition’s bluff: Progressives can use this messaging to expose the ineffectiveness of conservatives’ approach to reducing abortion. Progressives can define conservatives as being for reducing abortions through bans and jail.
  • It lowers the flame on the abortion issue: Americans are tired of the divisiveness of this issue. A Pew Research poll from July 2006 found that the vast majority of Americans (66%) support finding “a middle ground” on abortion.

Third Way wishes the 110th Congress a Happy New Year, filled with common ground and effective solutions to the many challenges of our times.