Monday, November 29, 2010
We have had a number of posts, in recent weeks, regarding the relatively recent abortion-related conference at Princeton. Some of those posts included references to Will Saletan's (of Slate) "take-aways" from the conference, which took the form of "advice" for pro-lifers and pro-choicers. Commenting on these take-aways -- and, in particular, on Saletan's advice to pro-lifers that they join pro-choicers in reducing the number of abortions by endorsing contraception and sex education instead of regulation. Putting aside (a) the question whether the number of abortions is all that matters and (b) how the number of abortions are, in fact, best reduced, I think Ross Douthat makes a very good point:
For Saletan’s compromise to become plausible, Roe would have to go. For any compromise that offers anything meaningful to abortion opponents to become plausible, Roe would have to go. I’ve made this point before, but it’s worth making once again: The problem with the abortion debate in America isn’t that the anti-abortion side won’t ever consider making compromises or taking half a loaf. It’s that the structure of constitutional law is tilted so egregiously toward abortion-on-demand that any plausible compromise is a non-starter. I appreciate Saletan’s willingness to contemplate the idea of some legal restrictions on abortion. In a different, better world, it would represent a real step toward meaningful political discussion. But so long as five Supreme Court justices think that there’s an absolute constitutional right to a second trimester abortion, he’s writing checks that American politics can’t cash.
UPDATE: More from Saletan, here.