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An Opening on Abortion?

There is also the politics of the issue. In her study, Laser points to a group she calls the "abortion grays," i.e., the six voters in 10 who do not see the issue in black-and-white terms. This group tilts pro-choice but does not believe abortion should always be either legal or illegal.

For Democrats, this means taking into account that while most of the new members they elected this month favor abortion rights, the party's freshmen include strong opponents of abortion -- among them Sen.-elect Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and about a half-dozen new House members. Democrats are a party with a pro-choice majority, a significant pro-life minority and a lot of grays.

Republicans are the more antiabortion party but include many pro-choice voters and grays in their ranks. They face a broadly pro-choice country and now have to battle a right-wing image that drove

so many independents and moderates to the Democrats.

Taking substantial steps to reduce the abortion rate will not settle the larger ethical argument over the practice. But it could show that politicians are capable of living up to their highest calling, which is to seek practical forms of moral seriousness.

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