I am father of three boys and host dad to five others; there are eight men in our family between the ages of 18 and 31. This December, we are expecting the first family grandchild. As far as I know, none of my boys have been in a relationship with an unplanned pregnancy — but maybe I don’t know all.
I do know my own experience. In my early 20s, a woman and I were in an on and off again relationship. We were sexually active, and she was on the pill. In one of our “off phases” that followed an “on phase”, she was two weeks late. She was never late. She was also Catholic, a fantastic woman, and would have been a great mother.
I thought that if she was pregnant, we were going to have a child. I would likely be an unwed father, still in grad school. Although unprepared, I had a college degree and an ability to earn a living. If she chose to have the child, my life would have been altered in many ways, as would have hers. Turns out she was late, but not pregnant.
Here’s what may surprise you. I was raised Jewish, in a liberal household, and yet I believe that life begins at conception. I am personally pro-life. If she was pregnant, I would have wanted her to have the baby.
But we live in what is supposed to be a secular nation with diverse religious views. I know that my beliefs are not the only ones that matter — and that the choice would have been hers.
Today, it’s the middle position on abortion that will control American politics for decades. It is there right now, for each party to take. But it’s the extreme positions that control the narrative: complete freedom to have an abortion up to 24 weeks, or no right to choose immediately after conception.
Today, it’s the middle position on abortion that will control American politics for decades.
Both are equally untenable. Meanwhile, these facts on abortion are true in America:
Three in 10 women have an abortion. Approximately 11 percent of pregnancies are terminated by an abortion. Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal all or most of the time, while 37 percent say it should be illegal all or most of the time. There were 930,160 abortions in 2020. Of these abortions, 96 percent occur at 16 weeks or earlier.
Forty-eight percent of Americans support restricting abortion after 15 weeks, while 43 percent oppose. This is split by party, with 75 percent of Rs and 21 percent of Dems supporting 15 week bans.
I have been a high school basketball coach for 17 years now. I am not the best, but I am not the worst. Any coach will tell you that the best defense takes away the opposing team’s best offense.
The American project is at stake
But also: there is more at stake than abortion. The Republican Party is using this election to cement autocracy; if Democrats allow them to take an extreme position on an issue with near consensus in America, they risk losing the whole American project.
Make no mistake: abortion was actually a strength for the Rs until the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Forget what you think of Senator Graham’s policies, you cannot deny that he is smart. Not coincidentally, he supports legal abortion up until 15 weeks, and past that in extreme cases of rape, incest and health of the mother/fetus. He is trying to take the middle.
The Democrats are allowing the far left to push them to lose both houses of Congress, the 2024 Presidency and risk our entire democracy.
The Republican Party is using this election to cement autocracy; if Democrats allow them to take an extreme position on an issue with near consensus in America, they risk losing the whole American project.
They are protecting the rights of 4 percent and risking the freedom of 96 percent. Over 900,000 American women will now be at risk if they don’t move fast. Like today, fast.
If the Dems answer here is to stand on principle and risk those women’s health and our democracy, why am even wasting my time to go to the polls? I am a pragmatist. I have no interest in martyrdom for American women. I want to win.
Tomorrow, Joe Biden, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chrissy Houlahan, Amy Klobuchar and Val Demings should be in a national television ad spread across social media, saying this:
We as a nation need to come together before we are no longer a nation. We support a federal law on abortion that gives a woman the right to a legal abortion up to 16 weeks, with exceptions beyond that in cases of rape, incest or when the health of the mother or fetus is at risk. If you vote for Democrats on November 8th, we promise to make the American Women Freedom bill the first piece of legislation we introduce and pass when Congress convenes in 2023. Let’s come together as Americans and move forward, once and for all.
The far left will lose its mind. What will they do, stay home and not vote as a protest? Make it easier for Republicans to get elected? If that’s the case, they don’t really care about the country, and their principles will lead us to our end as a nation. Who wants to be in a party with those people? They are no better than the far right.
The far right will lose its mind out of fear, because their strongest arrow will just have been rendered impotent, pun intended.
And our nation can finally start compromising on issues to move our new economy forward and protect our democracy from all enemies, foreign and domestic, including those on the right and the left.
Seth Berger is the head boys basketball coach at The Westtown School. He was founder/CEO of And1 basketball apparel company. He has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from Wharton.
The Citizen welcomes guest commentary from community members who stipulate to the best of their ability that it is fact-based and non-defamatory.
MORE ON ABORTION RIGHTS FROM THE CITIZENHeader photo: Wikimedia Commons