A good initial step to mending the political divides in this nation would be to stop expecting every company, every person of public interest or every organization to stake out a public position on all controversial topics. Another good step would be to extend respect to those who happen to disagree on important political issues. 
The post No, you’re not obliged to ‘pick a side’ on abortion  appeared first on The Nevada Independent.

A good initial step to mending the political divides in this nation would be to stop expecting every company, every person of public interest or every organization to stake out a public position on all controversial topics. Another good step would be to extend respect to those who happen to disagree on important political issues. 

Unfortunately, both of those things are apparently a pretty big ask in today’s political environment. 

As part of its ongoing coverage regarding the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade, The Washington Post ran a bizarre non-story about how the video game industry has largely refused to get on board with the progressive movement’s pro-choice culture war against abortion opponents.

Likewise, according to Bloomberg News, a company memo sent out by Sony PlayStation President Jim Ryan left employees (and abortion-rights advocates) “seething,” after he called for workers to “respect differences of opinion” on abortion in the wake of the leaked opinion. 

In both reports, the supposed outrage at the lack of political support for abortion rights represents a strange evolution in our politically censorious era. Apparently, calling for civilized and respectful dialogue — or even simply avoiding the controversy that comes with outspoken views on such topics by staying quiet — is now just as blasphemous as uttering an opinion that offends the political sensibilities of certain abortion activists. 

To be fair, it is a trait that is hardly unique to activists within the abortion debate in today’s political climate. From Trump-loyalty litmus tests among GOP primary voters, to the “cancel culture” of the progressive left, ideologically rigid activists on all sides of the political spectrum often feel compelled to silence, bully and ostracize those who dare to entertain divergent opinions. 

Graduating to the act of demanding emphatic support seems like the next logical step — and that’s a worrisome trend for a world where so much of our lives have already become flash points for political controversy. Especially when it comes to a topic as complex, nuanced and personal as access to abortion. 

After all, regardless of what the radicals on either side insist, the abortion debate isn’t as binary as the terms “choice” and “life” would lead one to believe, which probably explains why many voters land somewhere in the middle

According to a 2021 poll by OH Predictive Insights, for example, a plurality of Nevada voters said abortion should be legal “in some cases” as opposed to “never” or “in all cases.” Indeed, 62 percent of self-described “pro-life” respondents even believed some level of access to abortion should be allowed, and more than a third of “pro-choice” respondents believed some limitations on abortion are similarly acceptable. 

And in this regard, Nevada’s not terribly unique. The results of that 2021 poll showed the state was more pro-choice — yet still relatively in line — with the nation’s overall view on abortion. Nationally, a plurality believe access to abortion should be legal, yet still regulated and perhaps even restricted in certain circumstances. It’s a popular view that has remained relatively unchanged in the 50 years since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, with both prohibitionists and abortion advocates failing to gain much ground against a more popular moderate position of “it depends.”    

One reason for this sizable contingent of Americans staking out the middle ground is largely due to the moral complexity of the issue itself. Most Americans seem to respect and recognize government’s obligation to protect both sets of rights at stake in the abortion debate — both that of individual bodily autonomy for the mother, and that of an unborn child’s life. 

It’s for this reason many of those who describe themselves as “pro-life” make exceptions for early-pregnancy abortions or non-elective reasons in later trimesters, and many “pro-choice” proponents are similarly influenced by the length of pregnancy.   

In other words — and this shouldn’t really have to be said — the issue of abortion is complex. It requires individuals to consider government’s role in protecting one right at the potential expense of another. As a result, perfectly decent and compassionate people can (and will) disagree on what limitations, if any, should be placed on the practice. Even among the moderates, there remains a whole host of disagreement about when to “draw the line” regarding elective abortions, when life begins and at what point should concerns about that future life be weighed against a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. 

To a large contingent of Americans, these are complex questions — not some cartoonish binary between the all-or-nothing positions posited by the radical fringes on either side of the debate. 

As such, it shouldn’t be much of a scandal that video game manufacturers have failed to jump into a divisive political discussion that is so emotionally and socially complex — nor should it be outrageous that a corporate executive asked his employees to be respectful of the divergent opinions of colleagues, customers and communities. The gaming world — along with the rest of corporate America — doesn’t owe The Washington Post progressive political conformity, nor does Jim Ryan owe his employees a dissertation on the supposed need to preserve Roe v. Wade. 

Ryan was right that “we owe it to each other” to respect the differences of opinion as we move toward an even greater era of uncertainty and division over abortion rights. The fact that such a call for ideological tolerance garnered the kind of criticism that it did is an indictment of how corrosive our tribalist politics have become — especially considering the breadth of nuance that exists on this particular topic. 

Michael Schaus is a communications and branding consultant based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and founder of Schaus Creative LLC — an agency dedicated to helping organizations, businesses and activists tell their story and motivate change. He is the former communications director for Nevada Policy Research Institute and has more than a decade of experience in public affairs commentary as a columnist, political humorist, and radio talk show host. Follow him at SchausCreative.com or on Twitter at @schausmichael.

The post No, you’re not obliged to ‘pick a side’ on abortion  appeared first on The Nevada Independent.

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