Why Be Pro-Life? By Jonah Goldberg
I thought this was an excellent article, and I agree with most of what Goldberg says, but I find it impossible to be so judgmental as he about those who have changed their minds. The reason is, although I’ve always been against abortion in my own life, I’ve changed my mind a couple of times about the role the federal and state governments should play on this issue. I would guess that politicians, who must spend huge amounts of time (compared to me, a private citizen who works at a regular job) contemplating where they stand on this and on other important issues, must be looked at somewhat cynically, as the author does. I still think, though, that everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt as to the honesty of their present position.
I’ve written at length about abortion so I won’t go into details here, but I believe that Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton should be overthrown on constitutional grounds, but that states should make all abortions in the first trimester legal, and place limitations on later term abortions. Partial birth abortions should always be illegal.
Why Be Pro-Life?
By Jonah Goldberg, RealClearPolitics, October 16, 2007
Being pro-life is so unfashionable, so uncool, I tend to trust politicians who are willing to hold the line.
This, in turn, points to why I have special contempt for antiabortion politicians who switch sides. Jesse Jackson used to call abortion "genocide." Dick Gephardt, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Dennis Kucinich and other pro-choicers all once championed the unborn. Did each of them revisit the moral, philosophical, scientific and theological issues involved and, after careful study, suddenly decide that abortion doesn't kill "babies" after all but, rather, merely evacuates "uterine contents"? I doubt it.
I could be wrong, obviously. But the fact that their conversions echoed the march of the Democratic Party and, for the most part, dovetailed with their own presidential ambitions suggests to me that they were willing to sanction the taking of what they had once believed to be innocent lives merely for political gain. That is disgusting.
Flip-flopping the other way (as George H.W. Bush, Mitt Romney and others did) may be no less cynical. To pro-choice voters, it's surely deeply offensive to watch someone sacrifice the individual liberty of women for political expediency. But, morally, it just doesn't seem as bad to me.
Every day, the government restricts what you can do with your body, from the drugs you can take to the surgeries you can subject yourself to. In other words, the line of personal autonomy is often blurry and narrow. The line between life and death is supposed to be bright and wide. Once a politician takes a stand that a certain population -- be they fetuses, Jews, blacks or anybody else -- has the right to life, their motive for changing their minds should be a lot better than fear of losing support from NARAL and the New York Times.
And that gets me to my more philosophical or principled reason for being pro-life: I just don't know. I confess that I lack passion about debates over RU-486, Plan B and other measures that terminate a pregnancy in the first few hours or days after conception, because that's when I'm least sure that a life is at stake. But when it comes to, say, partial-birth abortion, I am adamantly pro-life. I don't know if a fertilized egg has rights. But I am convinced that a baby minutes, days or weeks before full term is, simply, a baby. And despite what you constantly hear, Roe vs. Wade doesn't recognize that fact.
In death penalty cases, "reasonable doubt" goes to the accused because unless we're certain, we must not risk an innocent's life. This logic goes out the window when it comes to abortion, unless you are 100% sure that babies only become human beings after the umbilical cord is cut. I don't see how you can be that sure, which is why I'm pro-life -- not because I'm certain, but because I'm not.