I know that this is sort of a “what if Spartacus had a Piper Cub” thought exerise but I actually changed very little in the wording of Senator Charles Schumer’s op ed (original here). What do you think the left would say if he had written this:
Since the massacre at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, many are wondering whether this tragedy might finally provoke action on abortion.
The answer is, it could. The reason may surprise abortion activists.
A post-Newtown examination of how children are murdered in the womb via our abortion laws would be the country’s first such effort since the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which disallowed many state and federal restrictions on abortion in the United States, while affirming Roe‘s central holding that a person has a right to abortion until viability. The case, decided by the court’s liberal bloc, was originally viewed as a setback for advocates of life. But embracing the ruling could actually create a new paradigm for abortion control.
The gun debate of the past two decades has devolved into a permanent tug-of-war between the Planned Parenthood, NARAL, other “pro-choice” organizations and advocates of child safety. One side has viewed the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action or the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people as absolute; the other has tried to pretend that those “rights” should also extend to the unborn child as a person. The result is a failure to find any consensus, even as one abortion after another underscores the need for sensible reform.
Roe v. Wade told the two sides that they were each only half-right: The right to personal privacy and choice is constitutionally guaranteed, but reasonable limitations are allowed.
The first part is something many abortion proponents did not wish to hear, but it was a needed dose of reality. Before Roe, the goal of some ant-abortion activists was an outright ban on abortion. Roe removes that possibility for good. Conservatives should move on and work within the ruling. This means no longer harboring ideas of a future conservative majority on the court someday overturning Roe. It also means that states and localities should abide by the spirit of the ruling, not just its letter, and not seek to impose undue burdens upon law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The truth is, it was bad strategy to ever deny an individual right to and abortion in the event of rape, incest or health of the mother and, similarly, the special place that babies and children hold in our culture. That mentality alienated potential allies in the ideological middle of the abortion debate — something I learned three years ago when my friend Ben Nelson invited me to Nebraska for my first trip to the maternity ward of a local hospital and a pre-kindergarten nursery. I returned with true respect for how, in many parts of America, having children is not just a constitutional right but a way of life. It has the same meaning in Nebraska that playground basketball did for me in my Brooklyn neighborhood. Roe misunderstands that reality.
In the current state of play, moderate “pro-choice” advocates have become convinced by NOW and other, even more radical abortion organizations such as NARAL (the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) that the goal of all pro-life advocates is to take away their access to true medical care. These pro-abortion advocates view even the most reasonable abortion proposals with suspicion, fearing a slippery slope to a ban. This paranoia is what gives the abortion lobby its power.
It wasn’t always this way. After the election of liberal presidents and the seating of liberal justices within the court systems, the nation enacted sweeping abortion laws — and Americans did not stand in the way.
Planned Parenthood was less political in that era and more focused on providing practical assistance to its members, much like AAA does today for automobile owners. But in the 1980s, the group became more militant. Part of this was driven by new leadership, which sought to expand the group’s membership rolls and collect more dues.
But this radicalization was also abetted by those who really were seeking an outright ban on abortion.
Now that Roe has ruled out the possibility of anyone ever taking away their access to contraception and abortion, “pro-choice” advocates should be more open to some reasonable limitations. No individual right is absolute, after all. While the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, no one has a right to falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, nor to traffic in child pornography. Likewise, the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments right to privacy also comes with limits when applied to an unborn child.
We need to refine those limits in the wake of what happened in Newtown. Abortions should only be performed in the case of rape, incest and danger to the health of the mother.
The abortion issue will remain thorny, but Roe points the way toward a possible compromise, under a new paradigm. All of us — especially conservatives — should embrace it.
Do you think the abortion fanatics would see this as a “middle ground”?
Of course they wouldn’t….
I guess it can pass as that when “reasonable restrictions” are presented to weak minds on the issue of gun ownership and not abortion. Pictures of 20 mangled fetuses in a bio-hazard waste container tagged for disposal don’t have the same emotional impact as the pictures of the beautiful Sandy Hook kids – even though the only difference between the two is only 6 short years of life.
Destruction of constitutional rights through incremental erosion is not “middle ground” and we should not accept it as such.