The Battle Over Abortion Language

The way you talk about your desire for common ground, it turns out, signals whose side you’re actually on.

Advice to would-be culture warriors in the 21st century: walk softly and carry a big thesaurus. According to the conventional wisdom, the culture wars are over in Washington—or, at the very least, reduced to sideline skirmishes. Buoyed by the support of centrist, socially conservative Christians, the Obama administration has ushered in a new era of conciliation. Ideological opponents—especially those on either side of the abortion issue—are now trying to establish common ground. This is one of the priorities of the president’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. (I wrote a story about this a month ago.) A first order of business is “abortion reduction,” a seemingly noncontroversial and laudable goal. By agreeing that abortion is a complex moral issue and that it should be less frequent, former enemies can work together to find ways to reduce abortions.