For years the pro-life movement has quibbled within itself about whether incrementalism or abolition was the better approach to ending the scourge of legalized child sacrifice in America. There was even an internal debate about whether the desired result was a reversal of Roe v Wade, which would turn the issue back over to the states to decide for themselves, or a “contra-Roe” opinion from the Supreme Court that would keep the issue a national one, but forbid the practice in all 50 states.
But this much has always been understood amongst pro-lifers: abortion is wrong because it ends a human life that has intrinsic value. For that reason, the pro-life movement has never pretended there was “neutral ground” on the topic. What exactly would “neutral ground” be, after all, when your presupposition is that a human life with inviolable human rights is being extinguished by the practice? Would it be neutral to say that only really poor babies could be killed legally? Or maybe only the handicapped ones? Or perhaps only a certain race?
Consider the different, but strikingly similar, moral issue of slavery. Was there “neutral ground” to take on that issue? Nope – for precisely the same reason: to allow any exception necessarily undermines the argument of intrinsic value. That’s the problem abolitionists have voiced to incrementalists when they have advocated for rape exceptions – if abortion is wrong because it ends a human life, how is that not true for the life of a baby conceived in rape?
Life is worthy of protection because of what it is, not what it does (or if its male parent is a criminal, or if its female parent is inconvenienced). There’s no neutral ground – abortion is immoral and wrong.
But in their effort to preserve the billion-dollar industry, the pro-abortion movement on the left has always played the, “reasonable minds can disagree” and “reasonable exceptions can be made” cards. Bill Clinton famously promoted the “safe, legal, rare” position, arguing that since abortion was inevitable, government had a duty to keep the practice legal so it could be done in a safe way. Then, the government could work to make sure the supposed need for abortion was mitigated.
It sounds lovely, but it’s anything but. First of all, how much sense would government molestation centers make? Since child molesting is going to happen regardless of the law, should the government make the practice legal, but build safe facilities for perverts to come and commit the crime without fear of reprisal? If an act is immoral, you don’t make it legal simply so the immoral act can be done in a safe manner.
Which always raised the bewildering question about this ‘safe, legal, rare’ approach: why rare? Doesn’t the professed desire to make abortion rare indicate an acknowledgement of the immorality of the act? If it isn’t immoral, and it is safe, why care whether it is a frequent or a rare practice? Democrats have defended the legality of abortion by claiming it is no more immoral than having a tumor removed. Do the Democrats also want to make tumor-removal rare? See the incongruence?
Well, finally, it appears the Democrats have wisely and thankfully chosen to move on past their doublespeak on this critical issue. At the recent presidential debate, maverick Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard voiced the neutral ground approach with her trademark articulation:
“I agree with Hillary Clinton on one thing. In the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was president and she said abortion should be ‘safe, legal, and rare,’ I think she’s correct.”
And tellingly, that approach to the issue left her standing alone. None of the other candidates would concur. And after the debate ended, things only got more revealing. Leftwing opinion-shaper Vice sneered, “Tulsi Gabbard’s Stance on Abortion is Stuck in the 90s.”
And The Daily Beast wasn’t impressed either , blasting Gabbard as “Deeply Offensive…Reproductive rights activists are furious, saying ‘safe, legal, rare’ stigmatizes the procedure.”
This may seem weird given my lifelong commitment to the pro-life cause, but I take this shift on the left as a big step forward for our culture. There truly is no middle ground on this issue, just as Lincoln found there was no middle ground to be found on slavery.
Now, I’d like to think we are more civilized today than being forced to resolve the impasse with bullets and cannon fire, obviously. But we have been spinning our wheels for decades pretending that there was an acceptable compromise to be found between those who see abortion as a wretched sin and those who see it as a moral good.
At last the two political parties are coalescing behind those two positions and are giving up the equivocating pretense of middle ground. That’s good. The choice is clear. Let the people decide.