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Guest Contributor Poochini
This past week, with all the attention given to the latest video revelations about the abortion industry, another story came in under the radar, which may signify something more profound. I saw a single tweet about this:
They're losing the argument and they know it. The nature of the debate is about to change.
This was one of those times when I knew that 140 characters weren’t anywhere near enough to explain. So let me elaborate.
From the Free Beacon story linked by Leslie:
Harris said that the pro-choice community should concede certain rhetorical points to the pro-life community, adding that abortion is an inherently violent act and a form of "killing."
The reason for this rhetorical change wasn’t made very clear from the article, and we can only speculate, but let’s lay out the history of the debate. In the 1960s, abortion was legal in four states, with various restrictions. Then in 1973, the Roe v Wade case federally mandated that it be legal in all 50, albeit with some nebulous language about when some restrictions may be allowed. I won’t recap the actual pro and con arguments, which I think everyone knows well, but the key point is that, without any political process, one side won a permanent legal victory.
In 1985, none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the North Carolina Law Review:
“Roe, I believe, would have been more acceptable as a judicial decision if it had not gone beyond a ruling on the extreme statute before the court. … Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.”
Just 12 years after this was “settled law,” she was nervous that the public hadn’t done what it usually does when the SCOTUS settles law, and fall in line behind it. There was something different about this issue. Something profoundly different.
And now, 32 years have passed since that was written. Technology has advanced in two important areas: 1) we can see images in real time and monitor vital signs much more precisely than we could in 1985, and 2) we can save premature infants at much earlier stages than we could before. The first matters because this makes this abstraction clinically referred to as a “fetus” a tangible, even palpable human being. This has a lot to do with the fact that public support for unrestricted abortion has been steadily declining. The second matters both regarding the political argument and the legal argument, because “viable” is moving earlier and earlier.
The public debates focus less and less on policy and more and more on the three interrelated questions:
The first two questions may seem obvious, but if you watch the debates, there are still people trying to litigate them (H/T to the relentless and indefatigable @hboulware and many others for the jousting). This is what everyone is arguing about. Except for very specific side issues, such as government funding of Planned Parenthood, they're really not arguing policy. They’re arguing at the interface between science and philosophy. The fact that people are even attempting to debate questions 1 and 2 indicates that they’re scared to death of question 3. Dr. Harris apparently just said, “screw it.”
This is the iceberg that I’ve seen coming toward this debate for years, and it’s about to hit. Dr. Harris seems to be conceding points 1 and 2 in the hope that doing what they have always known they were doing, killing human beings, can be argued to be justifiable homicide. That’s going to be a tough hill to defend.
Back to Bader-Ginsburg:
“Sonja West, a constitutional law professor at the University of Georgia, said Ginsburg’s view is that women must be autonomous.
“The key to understanding Justice Ginsburg’s views on the constitutional right to abortion is that she sees it as a question of equal protection and not of privacy,” West said.
In other words, in Ginsburg’s mind, it was never a question of privacy, it was always a question of equity between fertile women and fertile men, and children are irrelevant. This dovetails perfectly with Harris’ ideas.
So here we are. The “pro-choice” side is finally admitting what we’ve all known for a long time: this was never about privacy or choice. It was always about when homicide is justifiable. I hope the pro-life side knows what to do with this gift.