The Impossibility of a "Grand Bargain" on Abortion and Contraception.

To follow up on Monica's post about Dana Goldstein's terrific article about the coming battle over contraception, it's also important to emphasize what Republican opposition to contraception reveals about cultural conservatism. As Atrios says, there's a common argument among pundits who fancy themselves centrists on abortion -- E.J. Dionne and Will Saletan, for instance -- that holds that we can bridge the cultural divide by focusing on reducing unwanted pregnancies and hence reduce abortion rates. One would think this would be desirable from those who want to outlaw abortion altogether.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it ignores the broader set of assumptions about women and sexuality on which actual opposition to abortion is based. Consider anti-choice Republicans, who consistently opposed expanding contraceptive use: Given the choice between reducing abortion rates and controlling female sexuality, they will always choose the latter. Thus the idea that contraception can be a means of achieving a ceasefire in the culture wars has always been a fantasy. Liberals and conservatives aren't just divided by abortion but by broader questions of female equality and sexual freedom.

--Scott Lemieux

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