(This Op-Ed by yours truly appears in Florida Today newspaper, 8/22/18)

There is an old saying about a half loaf being better than none. Perhaps we should educate our politicians. That’s the same as saying some progress is better than no progress.

It seems no one in the current political spectrum is amenable to such a practice. If politicians who claim to be bipartisan would apply “bipartisanship” to legislative bottlenecks, we might see more progress coming from lawmakers across many issues. The key is compromise, that strange, outdated phenomenon. It was practiced by Republicans and Democrats during the Clinton years, which led to enormous legislative progress, not to mention a balanced budget.

The problem is particularly clear in regards to legalization or criminalization of abortion. There is no middle ground; pro-lifers and pro-choicers are virtually polarized with no room for compromise in either direction.

The impending hearings for nominee Brett Kavanaugh for filling a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court rests not on his voluminous array of legal qualifications or any other matters pertaining to government. Rather, it’s all about Roe v. Wade and how he might lean one direction or another as though this country has no other problems. That’s the focus. That’s very sad.

As an American citizen, my concern about any potential U.S. Supreme Court justice is far reaching, because other than a president, there are no other American dignitaries more powerful. Belaboring his viewpoint on abortions virtually jams the process from addressing many other vital issues.

According to latest Pew Research studies, the populous is quite divided over the matter of legal versus illegal abortions. Four in 10 Americans say that having an abortion is morally wrong, yet they don’t all claim abortions should be illegal. The gap is quite large when measuring party politics. Among liberal Democrats, 88 percent say abortion should be legal, compared to 27 percent of conservative Republicans. Nearly 60 percent of adults think abortions should be legal compared to 37 percent who avidly oppose.

So how can we satisfy both sides of this issue? Here’s a workable compromise. States could pass laws that enforce a timeline of fetal viability for women who want/need abortions. My suggestion is a four-month limit. Terminating pregnancies in the first four months should be the mother’s decision. But when a fetus is viable, fully developed and able to live on its own, abortions should be declared illegal, except to save the life of the mother. It is utterly inhumane and brutal to extract a 7 or 8 month-old child from the womb, fully developed and able to live on its own.

With such a law, the ultimate compromise, legal and humane, can be enacted with a half a loaf given to each side of the issue.

By all means, abortions, in general, should never be deemed illegal across the board. Criminalizing abortions at all stages would do for the abortion business what prohibition did for the liquor industry. The black market would flourish and many thousands of abortions would still be performed, many by unqualified abortionists. Those who advocate for illegality across the board should realize this as a fact.

Then there’s the residual effect of enforcing such laws. In the 1960s, Miami-Dade’s police employed a cadre of detectives assigned to the “Abortion Squad,” while many assistant state attorneys were tied up in the prosecutions. Those convicted took up jail space. I vividly remember some of those cases, particularly those being performed by veterinarians and unemployed nurses.

So, by keeping parameters under control for legal abortions, women can still get the relief they seek providing they carry out the act within the early part of pregnancy. Otherwise, as the fetus grows, it becomes a baby with a right to live. Thus, “pro-life” and “pro-choice” can blend and live happily ever after.

If such compromise laws were finally etched in stone, congressional probers and journalists could stick to an array of more salient issues when probing potential U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominees.

Solution to abortion debate is simple: compromise


  1. Eileen August 22, 2018 at 7:22 am #

    I agree, Marshall. However, the “right” wingers who think they know what is “right” for every woman, and/or her unborn, will never go along with any compromises. They view an embryo as a fully developed baby. Many of us have seen their misleading billboard signs on highways. But since the “right” wingers are always “right” about everything, NOT, I strongly believe they (particularly the “right” wing religious fanatics) will never budge on this issue. As a moderately thinking voter, I am frequently frustrated with both liberal and conservative parties.

  2. Charlie August 22, 2018 at 7:22 am #

    I can’t argue with that Marshall. While I would never want my wife to have an abortion it’s none of my business what my neighbors might do.

  3. Charlie August 22, 2018 at 7:22 am #

    I can’t argue with that Marshall. While I would never want my wife to have an abortion it’s none of my business what my neighbors might do.

  4. Laura Petruska August 22, 2018 at 7:27 am #

    No one in the conservative field will like what I’m about to say. I grew up when aborations were illegal. I clearly remember long visits to “Aunts” or impromptu visits to France – if you had the funds. Then there were gruesome news stories about the botched abortions where the woman died. There will always be abortions as long as there are woman in need. It is of absolutely no concern to ANYONE but a doctor and a woman to determine if a woman is to have an abortion. End of discussion. There is no compromise. It isn’t any of your business, it is not the government’s business, it isn’t the church’s business or the lady next door walking her dog. It is a medical decision between the doctor and the client. I don’t see the hoopla with vasectemies. I understand that the religious think it is morally unacceptable, but you don’t get to weigh in on a doctor and the client in anything – it isn’t your business. What anyone thinks about when life starts is personal. If you think life starts when sex starts then you are in one category if you think life starts at first breath you are in another category. But, again you don’t get to weigh in when that door closes between a client and doctor, Sorry Marshall you also don’t get to weigh in you aren’t the woman, you didn’t get pregnant and it isn’t your body to decide these decisions.

    • Lee Martines August 22, 2018 at 7:41 pm #

      So you are saying that the father has no say in the matter? Very small minded in my opinion!

  5. Marcia Berry August 22, 2018 at 7:58 am #

    Thanks for an excellent column, Marshall. It’s very discouraging to see how our society, and especially politics has abandoned the option of compromise. If everyone is yelling, no one is listening!

  6. ken August 22, 2018 at 8:26 am #

    If someone believes a fetus, less than 4 months old, is a living human being with a soul, how could they accept your “compromise”?

  7. Donald August 22, 2018 at 9:35 am #

    No matter where you stand on this issue, Marshall has written a thoughtful article that covers most of the abortion issues. The problem I have with his article is the same problem I have with most articles on abortion. The arguments only polarize the issue between pro-life and pro-choice. Where I come down on this issue is the importance of contraception, which is not mentioned anywhere in this article and most often omitted in all articles on abortion. It seems to me preventing conception is much more preferable than destroying the fetus at any stage of development.

    And Laura Petruska is wrong. Where we stand as a nation on the destruction of human life is everyone’s business. Abortion is not an event that only matters to a woman and her doctor. If we would not as a society allow a mother to destroy her baby one day after it was born, why would we allow her to destroy that baby one day before it is born?

    We need far more attention to be part of our national attitude about contraception. It is insane that literally millions of women get pregnant simply because in a moment of passion they forgot about contraception. And to think there should be no consequences for that error is to put the inconvenience of unwanted pregnancy ahead of the promotion and protection of life. It is equally unthinkable that the male counterpart of this issue should have no say in the decision to have an abortion. There is a lot more at stake than what a woman and her doctor think about the issue.

    • Laura Petruska August 22, 2018 at 2:45 pm #

      Respectfully disagree.

  8. Thomas Ault August 22, 2018 at 10:24 am #

    For some things there is no absolute answer. Abortion is one of those situations that cannot be legislated into a centralized answer that fits every one. Each incident is separate.
    Perhaps common sense would work, but unfortunately many don’t seem to possess this anymore. We could consider the religious view, but then we have many religions and each seems to have its own point of view as well.

    I, personally, believe that one should have a conscience and not ignore it. We all make mistakes and if this is one of them, it is the responsibility of the two involved to handle it. It can be done, but rarely is, in this new world thinking of “let’s blame someone else ’cause it feels good!” or “I just didn’t know!”
    Besides, in a new world of freedom to do whatever we please, regardless of the outcome, is there such a thing as a conscience anymore?

  9. Larry Usoff August 22, 2018 at 10:33 am #

    First things first…there should be a medical(and then legal) determination as to when a fetus becomes a baby, a baby being that form of life that could live outside the womb. Second, once determined, the legality of an abortion should be left to the woman. No man should have a voice in that choice because it’s not his body, even though it might be the result of his sperm. Third, qualified medical doctors should perform abortions, and if it is shown to be viable for research or resurgence of cells, body parts could be harvested.

    Larry Usoff, US Navy Retired

    Duty. Honor. Country.

  10. Gerald August 22, 2018 at 10:35 am #

    Good article, Marshall and good solution.

  11. Donald August 22, 2018 at 11:03 am #

    The idea that a fetus doesn’t become a baby until it can live outside the womb independently is bizarre. No baby can live outside the womb by itself. A baby needs care, feeding, protection and life sustaining medical attention for many years before it can live outside the womb by itself. By that ridiculous definition a baby would not become a baby until six or seven years after birth.

  12. Jack Milavic August 22, 2018 at 2:06 pm #

    Excellent article. Very hard to resolve. Currently, an expecting mother can abort her child without any legal penalties. However, if someone hits the mother and facilitates the death of the unborn they can be charged with murder.

  13. Amy August 22, 2018 at 3:54 pm #

    I agree with you. A woman has a right to her body, but science has an obligation here. There does need to be a clear timetable. I have wondered about the timetable myself. That is what we should be talking about.

  14. Les August 22, 2018 at 6:05 pm #

    I agree with you, Marshall, but I think the window for having an abortion should be smaller. I have worked with many women who have had abortions, and the devastation the hormones do to the body is overwhelming, not to mention the emotional toll these women face. By the third month, the changes that a pregnant woman’s body faces create havoc if the baby is aborted. Uterine cancer, other tumors, and reproductive problems abound when a baby is prematurely ripped from the womb. Women aren’t told about that. They are fed this “pap” that it is their right to choose. right to choose what? Cancer? Depression? Guilt? Anger at being forced by society to make this choice? How about forcing men to be responsible for contraception, instead of putting it all on the woman? Maybe then there would be less need for abortions.

  15. bob james August 23, 2018 at 10:55 am #

    Seen on a bumper sticker recently:

    “If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one!”

  16. bob james August 23, 2018 at 11:03 am #

    Occam’s razor philosophy on the abortion issue as seen on a bumper sticker recently:

    “If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one!”

  17. Jan Siren August 23, 2018 at 11:04 am #


    your proposal is very remniscent of the debate that took place back in the sixties – and the most reasonable proposal then was to consider preganancies as having “trimesters” – three-month intervals dating from the beginning of the pregnany. The first “trimester” was the woman’s, no questions asked; the third was the unborn child’s; but the middle trimester was the one in which all voices had a say – and there, reasonable people could differ.

  18. Just Me August 23, 2018 at 4:54 pm #

    Unborn humans are the most vulnerable humans as evidenced by the willingness of so many to kill them, while demanding the right to do so.

    Labels such as Zygote and Fetus, etc. are given to identify the developmental progress of an unborn human so all can intelligently discuss where this unborn male or female is in their development. The labels don’t make them less human.

    Giving the decision to kill an unborn human to the mother or doctor doesn’t take into account that the future man or woman has no way to be part of the decision-making process to take their life from them.

    While a woman has a right to her body, that unborn human is not “her body.” It has its own body which relies on its mother to nurture it to birth. Sadly, the unborn child is often killed, rather than giving them a future.

  19. Frank M Mina August 23, 2018 at 8:29 pm #

    what a sham, Murder should never be legalized, killing a living thing? are you kidding me.
    That is equating to executing a serial killer. Are we the only species that kills our young for convenience. For shame.

    • Just Me August 24, 2018 at 9:20 am #

      You are so right – they are murdering a living human being.
      It is difficult to get supporters of abortion to agree to the truth that abortion is the killing of an unborn human. One of the reasons is because the silent, dead, unborn baby cannot speak for itself, so the killer never hears from its victim nor anyone else related to that dead human.
      Also, unborn humans are dehumanized by those who want it dead so as to make their position on abortion acceptable to themselves and others.
      To say that abortion is a selfish, brutal, barbaric act is an understatement.

  20. Reality August 30, 2018 at 4:13 pm #

    If you haven’t seen the now old movie, “The Cider House Rules”, with Michael Caine, please do so; the “Spiderman” actor is in it too. Come to think about it, he’s even younger in “Ride with the Devil”, about the Missouri Compromise. Let’s hope, like Hillary, that abortion becomes rare, as more boys and girls learn the truth about their bodies, and figure out life. Did you see that the rates of Sexually transmitted disease have risen dramatically? Remember Jocelyn Edwards having to resign because she said words to the effect that young boys should be pleasuring themselves, rather than impregnating girls? Common sense. Compromise seems impossible.