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Incrementalism Vs. Purism In The Abortion Debate

As within any ethical or political debate, groups are likely to clash not only with their opponents, but with their allies as well. Unfortunately, the same proves true within the pro-life movement, as demonstrated in the incrementalist and purist factions.

Based in the belief that their strategy is the most effective in abolishing abortion, each side not only adheres to activism in their strategy of choice as a broad-based ďbelief,Ē but also as a political decision maker.

Purists will not consider voting for a candidate who has a history of voting for any abortion legalization (even within the context of conceding some practices in order to get others outlawed) or does not support the complete and immediate end of abortion.

Incrementalists, on the other hand, work toward getting abortion completely outlawed, using smaller steps when necessary. They will vote for a candidate that is pro-life for the majority of their voting history.

The debate is basically about choosing the lesser of two evils; do you vote for someone who believes in outlawing most of abortion, or hold out for abortion to be abolished quickly, in one step?

Personally, I believe there are great intentions on both sides of the debate. I donít know a single incrementalist who would turn down a complete abolition of abortion. In that way I believe we would all be purists, in an ideal situation. On the other side of the opinion, the purists have it right that incrementalism is a one step forward, two steps back dance.

Roe v. Wade was a purist abortion victory. In one sweeping ruling, abortion was legal and that was that. Pro-choicers have been fighting for decades to allow more freedoms for the abortion industry, but overall the United States is a pro-abortion country. They are not the ones fighting an uphill battle.

It would be wonderful if pro-lifers could get a single ruling that outlaws abortion, once and for all. Itís not impossible; if Roe v. Wade was victorious, we could be also. But we are going about it all wrong. We have the right intentions, but the wrong timing.

Every autumn when elections roll around, people decide whom to vote for based on voting history and campaign platforms. Unfortunately, by then we have missed a defining point that would steer the elections so much more effectively Ė the primaries.

A majority of voters are uninterested in voting in the primary elections and feel they donít make a difference. If we wait for the candidates to be decided for us, we put ourselves directly in the position of being required to endorse the lesser of two evils.

At that point we either throw up our hands, doing nothing, because we donít like either candidate, or we adopt an incrementalist view and vote for the person who wants to decrease the number of abortions. If we would simply take action and involve ourselves in choosing our partyís candidate during the primary, true progress will be made toward ending abortion.

Both sides of the debate have valid points and to remedy the situation I believe we should vote purist in the primary and incrementalist when we have no other choice.

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