January 25, 2005

Reaching out on abortion.

Addressing a crowd of abortion-rights supporters yesterday, Hillary Clinton made an attempt to reach out to abortion opponents. She called abortion a "sad, even tragic choice to many, many women," and spoke favorably of the role of "religious and moral values" in helping teenagers keep celibate. This reaching out counts for something. It is extremely hard to articulate a middle position on abortion, even though, I think, the majority of Americans actually occupy that position.

We want abortion to remain legal, but we also believe it to be morally wrong. Those who are vocal in the debate about abortion are almost always the people who hold the polar positions and therefore find it easy to say what they believe. While I give credit to Hillary Clinton for attempting to explain the middle position, I am well aware that she is choosing her positions with an eye toward future political advantage and that her statement has a flaw that antagonizes abortion opponents:
"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," Mrs. Clinton said.

Every child born -- and aborted -- in this country is "wanted, cherished and loved" -- just not necessarily by the woman carrying that child. Supporters of abortion rights don't think it is enough that someone else stands ready to love and cherish that unborn child. They want to put the decision in the hands of the person who must go through the pregnancy.

UPDATE: Spelling corrected. "Celibate" does not have the same root as "celebrate," unsurprisingly. "Celibate" is from the Latin "caelibtus, from caelebs, caelib-," meaning "unmarried."
Historically, celibate means only “unmarried”; its use to mean “abstaining from sexual intercourse” is a 20th-century development. But the new sense of the word seems to have displaced the old, and the use of celibate to mean “unmarried” is now almost sure to invite misinterpretation in other than narrowly ecclesiastical contexts. Sixty-eight percent of the Usage Panel rejected the older use in the sentence He remained celibate [unmarried], although he engaged in sexual intercourse.
"Celebrate" comes from "Middle English celebraten, from Latin celebrre, celebrt-, to frequent, celebrate, from celeber, celebr-, frequented, famous."

But you can celebrate celibacy, as apparently Hillary Clinton does. And you can be a celebrated celibate -- or you can just keep it to yourself. Who knows which celebrated celebrities are celibate?

And none of this has anything to do with "celery," which is "from Italian dialectal seleri, pl. of selero, alteration of Late Latin selnon, parsley, from Greek." Celibates and celebrities alike can eat celery.

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