Abortion Foes Find Common Ground

The term of the abortion issue are changing and pro-choice and pro-life groups find they share some similar views, said two speakers on opposing sides of the debate yesterday at the Kennedy School of Government.

Addressing an audience of 40 at the Institute of Politics, Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for Free Choice, and James R. Kelly, professor of sociology at Fordham University, spoke about the moral and ethical questions surrounding abortion.

The speakers said that both sides of the abortion debate now support state now support state aid for women who choose to bring their pregnancies to term.

For example, the state should sponsor programs to help raise their children, Kissling said.

Although there are moral objections to abortion, the "law should enhance decision-making, not limit decision-making about abortion, she said.

And if society wants a role in the woman's decision, Kissling said, it must take the responsibility of paying for abortions.

Addressing what he called common misconception about the "right-to-life" movement, Kelly said "not too many people have listened to the right-to-life movement."

Kelly said statistics show those who oppose abortion generally tend to be "women, minorities, the poor, the uneducated." People who are "white, well-educated, affluent, and males" tend to be more supportive of abortion rights.

In fact, the first pro-life groups which formed in the late 1960's were primarily active in the Democratic Party, Kelly said.

The Republican Party only began to oppose abortion in the late 1970's as an effort to attract voters who usually voted for Democrats, Kelly said, adding that the alliance between Republicans and the pro-life movement is over.

On the other side, Kissling said that pro-choice supporters are finding it more acceptable to say abortion is a morally problematic decision, and that efforts should be made to decrease the number of abortion in this country.

Kelly and Kissling were invited to speak by Kate Michelman, former president of the National Abortion Rights Action League. Michelman conducts a seminar, "The Politics of Reproductive Choice," at the Institute of Politics.