Harpo Jaeger dot com

The new abolitionists?

Dave Weigel:

Many pro-life activists consider their work a continuation of other movements that protected human life and elevated the status of people whom the law doesn’t consider “human.” In the 19th century, it was African-Americans; in the 21st century, it’s children in the womb. This is a common point at the annual March for Life. In 2009, Rep. Jeff Fortenberrytold activists at the pro-life event: “You are the new abolitionists. You are the new civil-rights movement.”

I think this is a deceptive metaphor. Giving blacks full civil rights was a recognition of the fact that the government had no business permitting their status as second-class citizens. Individual citizens are obviously free to think what they want about racial equality (being racist isn’t illegal), but in conducting business or public affairs, they have to treat all people equally.

Laws permitting abortion don’t *require *anyone to 1) believe that abortions are okay, or 2) have one. In this way, the right of citizens to make private choices about a private matter (analogousto one’s right to believe black people are inferior to white people) is left intact. But the fundamental difference between the two cases is that no one’s life is threatened by their being forced to treat blacks and whites equally in public. They may not like it, but they can (and have) learned to live with it (one of the many sacrifices people have to make to live in an at least somewhat cohesive society).

Forcing all people to recognize an unborn child as deserving of the same Constitutional status as the woman who’s carrying that child ignores the fact that having a baby has a huge impact on people other than the baby, primarily the mother. While I wouldn’t claim that anyone who’s anti-choice is automatically anti-feminist, this is the reason I can’t totally shake the feeling that refusing to allow a woman a choice that is at its core about her own body and what she wants to do with it is tantamount to declaring that her only function is to have babies (and that someone else gets to decide when she does it).