Some of you may know that I am opposed to abortion. Of course, I like Arizona’s new law prohibiting late-term abortions (barring medical necessity.) What I like most about what I’m hearing is that it is working to shape people’s minds, rather than say they don’t care what peple think. This is important.
Some people think that abortion should be outlawed in all circumstances at the point of the fertilized egg. Some people think that a bullet to the brain while a toe is still in the womb should be legal. Most people, however, do not belong to either category. The Arizona law focuses on the fact that, with appropriate equipment, the “fetus” at the stage in question can survive and that studies agree that the “fetus” can feel pain. In short, the argument posits that this is a reasonable restriction that most people accept.
Abortion supporters are understandably upset. They had pulled the “needs structures that don’t appear until twenty weeks along” out of the air as a means to silence the opposition. We really don’t know what, if anything, beyond brain waves is necessary to feel pain. So abortion supporters were upset that their own claims were being used against them. But I haven’t seen them able to make any argument other than the old “don’t like abortion; don’t have one” — which is about as persuasive as Sye’s “how can you know anyting for certain?”
Now, supporters do claim that this “chips away” at abortion rights — something that concerns me as much as chipping away at a right to rape. But the fact is that they are not going to get the general public to agree that the “toe in the womb” standard is appropriate. If they continue down this path, sooner or later, abortion laws will be more restrictive than if they recognize political realities and try to set a line in the “range of reasonability” that they can live with.