I am encouraged that President Obama's first action on abortion was to release a statement supporting a common ground approach to reducing abortion, even as he also reiterated his policy of supporting legal choice. Even more significant was his decision not to issue an executive order rescinding the "Mexico City policy" on the day of the anniversary of the Roe decision and the annual March for Life. For the past two decades, this particular rule has become a back-and-forth of instituting and repealing as administrations have changed -- almost as a partisan tit-for tat.
In breaking the symbolic cycle, President Obama showed respect for both sides in the historically polarized abortion debate, and called for both a new conversation and a new common ground. I hope that this important gesture signals the beginning of a new approach and a new path toward finding some real solutions to decrease the number of abortions in this country and around the world.
In his statement, Obama acknowledged that "this is a sensitive and often divisive issue," but went on to say "no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services."
I support the President's call for a new dialogue on the best ways to achieve abortion reduction while retaining his position on choice. And I hope the discussion can now move beyond the usual politics of abortion, changing the polarized debate, and building a new common ground movement to dramatically reduce abortion. This is a goal to which we can all agree.
Jim Wallis is the author of The Great Awakening, Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners and blogs at www.godspolitics.com.