One of the most challenging aspects of current culture (even among the intelligent) is that we continue to craft our world as one full of binary choices…
You must be this or that… for or against… black or white… as if there are only two possible ways to react to every issue… as if there existed a simple two answers.
In this current events blogger’s semi-humble opinion (emphasis on the “semi”), we have significantly over-employed the “if-you’re-not-for-us-you’re-against-us mentality.” We have lost our awareness and even respect for the existent middle ground, a perspective that fits not into the “one or the other” division.
For example, it is possible to want secure borders and have great compassion for immigrants.
It is possible to want to ensure everyone has affordable health care and be concerned that the government is financially insolvent and operationally inefficient.
It is possible to support the #MeToo movement and believe that some women have prevaricated the truth.
It is therefore possible for a “middle” perspective to exist, even in the midst of a tribal culture passionately attempting to sway us otherwise. The sides/tribes benefit when they can add another to their team.
As we wrestle with the folly of a binary society, there are times it’s harder — harder to find what a “middle” perspective may be. Understand that we aren’t having this conversation simply due to the desire to compromise; we are having the conversation because the middle actually exists.
We find the middle murkier when discussing abortion. Such became clear once more last week when New York passed their state Reproductive Health Act on the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade.
I’ll be honest… finding a completely factual synopsis of what this bill says and what it does not was incredibly difficult; too much opinion continuously obstructs the news.
New York’s previous abortion law was passed three years before Roe v. Wade. It “allowed women to seek abortions up to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy and at any point if it was deemed medically necessary to protect the mother’s life.”
Their newly passed legislation “maintains the 24-week limit under which women can seek abortions but adds a provision for abortions at any time if the baby would not survive the birth. Additionally, the act permits abortions at any point if it is necessary to protect the mother’s life or health. It also decriminalizes abortion by regulating it under the public health law, not penal law.” [Source: “AM New York”]
The reaction has been raucous. Any middle is hard to find.
One of the most, perceived radical, public reactions was found in the words of Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam. He said this: “When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of the mother, with the consent of physicians, more than one physician by the way, and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus which is non-viable. So in this particular example, if the mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if this is what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physician and the mother.”
With a raucous reaction to Northam’s reaction, the Governor has circled back and attempted to clarify that he was not talking about infanticide. His clarifications don’t seem to be gaining significant traction in the court of public opinion, as many people across all political affiliations are deeply disturbed by the Governor’s words — now finding fault in other words and behaviors of his, even though they previously existed.
I, too, am disturbed. I’m disturbed by the Governor’s words… disturbed by the condemnation… and disturbed by the cheers.
No doubt this isn’t a simple, binary answer. I wish we knew how to talk about it.