"The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them." (Thomas Jefferson - A Summary View of the Rights of British America - 1774)
While the current state of the presidential primaries has managed to conveniently cover the abortion issue, it remains the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room and once the general debates are underway it will come to the forefront whether we want it to or not. The reasons for this may be equally due to the extreme positions taken by both parties (mostly as a part of the general primary process) and actions by certain states, specifically by the legislation that Governor Spitzer is trying to get though the state legislature in Albany.
We need to have an honest debate on this issue, but in all honestly we will not get one through the presidential election system. While there is no clear agreement on the issue, the majority of people are clearly somewhere in-between the positions of both political parties. Most people who are "pro-life" do not simply want to "arrest doctors for murder" as President Clinton claimed to a heckler. Likewise there are number of people who are "pro-choice" but who agree that the best choice is not to be in a position to be forced to make a choice in the first place.
Personally, I am pro-life. I believe that life and liberty are fundamental rights given to us, not by the state, but by a higher authority and power, from the moment of conception. I find nothing magical or mysterious about birth; if a person does not have rights to life and liberty before birth he or she does not have rights to life or liberty after birth and likewise if a person has rights to life and liberty after birth he or she must have rights to life and liberty before birth. To simply deny all consideration of rights to the unborn is as disingenuous as those of Jefferson's time to deny all consideration of the rights of slaves by just calling them property.
The issue in essence comes down to an intersection between rights or perhaps a conflict between rights not in agreement. As with all conflicts the best solution is a compromise, and this is generally what the majority of Americans currently believe; not the extreme position of either party, but a reasonable and equitable solution.
As long as we continue to polarize the issue to the two extreme sides we will never come up with a proper solution. A Lincoln pointed out a hose divided cannot stand it will either fall one way or the other. With attempts to go beyond even the decision of Roe v Wade as can be seen in the Governor's legislation which will actually force religious institutions to perform abortions and lowers the bar as to the necessary qualifications needed to perform the medical procedure, as well as attempts by other states to constantly overturn the decision by passing laws that ban the practice entirely the true desires of the people may never be seen. We cannot be content if our candidate agrees with 75% of our position, because that 25% will constantly keep us in a state of division. We cannot permit the rhetoric of compromise while the actions of extreme separation on this issue.
As I mentioned abortion will probably become an issue because of New York. It probably is an issue because of New York. Statistics show that in 1996 the abortion rate in New York was 37 per one thousand women where the average for the nation was 20. (Unfortunately it is almost impossible to get good recent numbers.) In terms of issues this is more a regional problem than it is a national global issue. I apologize that the Emperor of New York will bring this issue to the national spotlight once again in the same manner he attempted to bring his unpopular idea to give illegal immigrants driver licenses.