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Thu, May 23

Prevention is key to unwanted pregnancies

BOSTON – Have you been listening to all the Democrats talking about real estate?

Despite a campaign that hinged on foreign policy and a candidate who couldn't speak straight, many have decided that the culprit is abortion.

And they've gone out shopping for "common ground."

The headlines describe a rash of soul-searching or poll-searching.

They range from "Anxiety over Abortion" to "Democrats Weigh De-Emphasizing Abortion" to "Are Democrats Ready to Elect a Pro-Life Chair."

In his state of the (liberal) union speech, pro-choice stalwart Ted Kennedy said, "Surely we can all agree that abortion should be rare and that we should do all we can to help women avoid the need to face that decision."

Then Hillary Clinton, in a speech that was widely described as a retreat, said, "There is an opportunity for people of good faith to find common ground in this debate – we should be able to agree that we want every child born in this country to be wanted, cherished, and loved."

The intriguing part is that only pro-choice politicians seem to be in this market. When the president, in his message to core supporters at the March for Life mentioned "seeking common ground," he added the killer qualifier, "where possible.'

Where exactly is it "possible' to find common cause with those who call themselves pro-life? In the three states that require telling women the lie that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer? In Virginia, where a state legislator introduced a law that would have made women report "fetal deaths"? Among those who think that stem cell research is homicidal? Or want to overturn Roe v. Wade?

If there is any shared turf in this debate it would be the one that both Clinton and Kennedy bid for: a flat-out campaign to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Yet at this moment, the FDA has once again delayed approval of putting Plan B, the after-the-act contraceptive, on the drug store shelf.

This emergency contraceptive, if taken soon enough, can prevent more than 80 percent of unwanted pregnancies.

It's been four years since the manufacturer applied for approval to sell Plan B over the counter. One FDA advisory committee after another has found it safe and effective for all ages.

(E-mail Ellen Goodman at


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