It as inevitable as the tides that anti-choicers would use the non-news that abortion produces fetal tissue to advocate for the abortion restrictions they favor ex ante. But the policies they’re advocating remain just as bad as they ever were:
There are numerous critical errors with Linker’s comparison. First of all, American abortion law has never been characterized by “absolutes,” and states have always maintained some leeway to regulate abortions. And even more importantly, state authority to regulate abortion is growing, not diminishing, in the US. Under Roe v Wade, states were permitted to regulate or ban (with an exemption for the life or health of the mother) post-viability abortions. And since 1992, Roe has been superseded by Planned Parenthood v Casey’s holding that weakened abortion protections by saying that pre-viability abortions could be regulated as long as these regulations do not constitute an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to obtain one. States have since been allowed to pass virtually any regulation that does not outright ban pre-viability abortions, and many have passed elaborate regulatory frameworks that make it enormously difficult to obtain safe abortions.
Even worse for Linker’s argument is that the Casey regime has been a disaster. Regulations like waiting periods, parental consent and restrictions on abortion clinics appeal to a vague sense among a lot of people that abortion shouldn’t be banned outright but that women should only obtain them for the “right” reasons. But even leaving aside how unattractive this paternalism is on its face, the fact is that state regulations of abortion don’t actually having anything to do with why women choose to have abortions. What they do is make it harder for poor women to get abortions than rich women, harder for women in rural areas to obtain abortions than women in major urban centers and harder for women in states like Mississippi and Texas to obtain abortions than women in New York and Washington state. And while self-styled moderates like Linker like to emphasize the problems of later-term abortions, these regulatory obstacle courses also make it harder for women to obtain first-trimester abortions.
The United States, in other words, has plenty of abortion “compromise.” The product of these compromises is a host of abortion regulations that are arbitrary, irrational and inequitable. One of the purposes of the Planned Parenthood videos is to support such regulations by advancing the idea that abortion is icky and compromise is civilized. But nothing in the videos dignify regulations that make it harder for more vulnerable women to obtain safe abortions while advancing no legitimate public purpose.