IF THERE is anything that is clear about the issue of abortion, it is that it is complicated, delicate, and difficult. What makes it so difficult is that people who come at it with honest, humane convictions have differences which are not easily cormposed.
Yet we must make decisions, even, or perhaps especially, the difficult ones. It is one of the strengths of the democratic system that it is equipped with machinery for flexible decision making, through elections and through legislatures. But this machinery will only work, will only last, if it is used with restraint. To the extent that the debates through which we make out decisions are intolerant, inflammatory, or ill-informed, we do not do a very good job of either making decisions or of putting the democratic system to good purposes.
It is quite clear from the foregoing discussions that all of the disciplines concerned-social science, medicine, ethics, law ~'i tell us something about abortion, but none of them can tell us everything. The social sciences can tell us something about social concerns and social consequences. Medicine can tell us something about scientific and clinical aspects. Ethics can describe for us some moral formulations. Law can detail for us the practical effects of writing our laws in various ways.. All of them can be helpful; none of them, per se, can, or should, or want to, decide what our public policy should be.
That decision will continne to be made in the social-political process. The International Conference on Abortion was held, and this book was written, in the hope that as the decisions are made there will be responsible public debate, based on the facts and issues as we understand them, and regard for our values of compassion, freedom, and reverence for life.