A grand compromise on abortion

This, our current reality, will lead to conflict and litigation between states. Corporations will be pushed to take sides, adding to the politicization of commerce. Partisan polarization will be exacerbated, and the risk of abortion-related violence will grow. Our precarious social fabric will be torn apart, further imperiling our already weakened sense of commonality and nationhood.

To avoid these consequences, lawmakers will have to meet in the middle. They will have to give up the more categorical positions that might prevail in “pro-life” or “pro-choice” states. Even so, and equally important, they will be able to advance their positions to a significant degree — on a nationwide basis, and therefore even in states that fall on the opposite side of the political divide.

To be potentially viable, a national compromise would include four elements. First, it would permit abortion during a specified period of gestation, without restriction, during the few first months of pregnancy. Second, it would prohibit abortion later in pregnancy. Third, even after this point in pregnancy, there would be exceptions to the abortion prohibition. And fourth, the congressional compromise would be national in scope, with federal law controlling the issue of abortion and preempting state law to the contrary.