It’s a sad state of affairs for conservatives after record breaking years in 2011 and 2012 with respect to the legal protection of unborn life at the state level; when TIME magazine has declared that abortion activists are on the run; when NARAL has admitted that pro-lifers are gaining ground and that the younger generation is more pro-life; and following the biggest March for Life in American history, we have a conservative publication like National Review lecturing conservatives, Republicans and pro-lifers to embrace moral relativism and shoot for a “middle ground” on abortion.
Avik Roy, writing for NRO, said that the “standard position on abortion” for those on the right who are pro-life should be that abortion is “illegal in all circumstances except for rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother.” Roy said this position:
appeals to those who want abortion to be rarer, but not entirely illegal. It offers blue-state Republicans a way to talk about the issue that falls within the mainstream of public opinion in their states. It’s a way to improve and expand the degree to which fetal life is valued.
Arguing that “the degree to which fetal life is valued” can be improved by devaluing whole classes of the unborn is completely unethical and morally unsound.
The problem with advocating for the popular “exceptions” to abortion is that it’s intellectually and morally inconsistent with the pro-life position, as Roy admits in his own article.
But [U.S. Senate candidate Richard] Mourdock was accurately representing the principled pro-life position: that life begins at conception, and that it is morally inconsistent to discriminate against life conceived by rape or incest.
Roy’s reasoning as to why we should just dispense with moral principles? “Voters recoiled at the consequence” of being morally consistent.
Mourdock’s lackluster attempt to explain his position, and the Republican Party’s wholesale abandonment of him in the media war that ensued, should not be construed as voters rejecting the moral principle that all life should be protected just because Mourdock lost his Senate race. The case for protecting the unborn after rape or incest has never been seriously taken to the American people in any form of well-funded mass media campaign meant to educate and persuade. And as we saw, our top political leaders will steer clear of these issues at all costs.
Roy also placed a heavy emphasis on public opinion expressed in a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll when pushing his middle ground approach. But as Ryan Bomberger, a pro-life activist who was conceived in rape, pointed out on MSNBC, the poll was rife with problems. A sizable 41 percent of those polled didn’t know enough about Roe v. Wade to even have an opinion.
How Roy can look at someone like Bomberger, or others conceived in rape, and argue that it’s perfectly fine for them to be aborted is beyond morally inconsistent.
Roy also doesn’t seem to recognize that science has confirmed that life begins at conception, saying it’s an “idea” that’s up for debate. This kind of intellectual dishonesty among those on the right only serves as fodder for pro-abortion activists trying desperately to convince women that what’s growing inside of them isn’t a human being.
Compromising on your principles will only get you so far. For Republicans trying to win elections, and conservatives trying to win arguments, saying abortion kills a life but we’re going to support it in certain cases anyway is like saying tax hikes kill jobs, but we’re going to support them anyway. It makes no sense to thinking individuals, and trying to explain how this is a position the public should get behind makes even less sense.
I believe most pro-lifers would accept real restrictions on the practice of abortions even if all were not made illegal, since many lives would be saved. Already we see victories at the state level that are saving some, but not all, lives. But if this were to occur, it could not be with even an implicit endorsement of the destruction of any life, regardless of how he was conceived or how imperfect his prognosis.
In the age of the 4D ultrasound, more people are recognizing the humanity of unborn life. And as science progresses and babies are able to develop outside of the womb closer and closer to the time of conception, the “viability” argument will become obsolete. We’re already seeing what the next argument over protecting life will be: So what if abortion ends a life?
Believing that all life deserves protection from the moment of conception isn’t a losing position, but we can’t just expect the public to fill in the blanks on why. Science and reason can be used to win this argument every time—we just need politicians who have the courage and the skill to make the case.