WilliamÃ‚ Saletan makes, quite compellingly, an argument I’ve advanced for years: that the anti-abortion side has a huge advantage in the debate because the pro-abortion side refuses to acknowledge something intuitively obvious: that the fetus is a human life. Writing on the just-passed bill making it a crime to “cause the death” of a “child in utero” during a violent federal crime, Saletan notes the lack of force of the opposing position:
It’s a strategy of denial. And this week, it ran into too much reality.
On the Senate floor, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, displayed a devastating series of pictures of murdered women accompanied by the viable fetuses who died with them. “The question is simple,” Brownback told his colleagues. “Do we have one victim or two involved in violent crimes such as these?” In one case, Brownback pleaded, “Look at this photo again of Christina and Ashley in the coffin. Is there one victim? Or are there two?” In another case, Brownback noted that the woman survived, but the fetus died. “Any congressman who votes for the ‘one-victim’ amendment is really saying that nobody died that night,” said Brownback, referring to the Feinstein alternative. “And that is a lie.”
Now, it is possible to set forth an argument that abortion during very, very early pregnacy is not the taking of something recognizable as human life. And one could even come up with a reasonably compelling argument that, while a first trimester fetus is a human life, the interests of the erstwhile mother outweigh its interests. I’m reasonably sympathetic to the first argument–although acknowledge the slippery slope counterargument. I don’t find the second argument particularly compelling unless the mother’s health is seriously in jeopardy.
But, regardless, we should have the debate from the starting point of the truth. And, preferably, within the context of a legislative body rather than a shifting majority on the Supreme Court.