A great point here by Michael Berube.
While I understand that acknowledging the deeply-felt moral sense of people who oppose some abortions procured by the wrong kind of pe…er, “pro-lifers” is politically necessary in some cases, few things frustrate me as much as framing the issue in a way that implies that while people who oppose abortion rights are admirably moral, a pro-choice position is a sadly necessary expedient. It’s true that if one considers the fetus a fully-formed human life, then laws banning abortion become not only desirable but morally imperative. The problem is that virtually nobody believes this–not surprisingly, because it’s nuts, and the legal implications of such a belief would be staggering. Or, at least, the number of people willing to act in a way consistent with this belief is vanishingly small. If it was true, then both women and doctors who obtain and perform abortions are guilty of homicide, the laws would be strictly enforced, and women who obtain abortions across state lines would be subject to the same harsh penalties. The fact that abortion law has never been anything like this gives away the show. Almost nobody believes the only premise that can make abortion laws defensible.
The current Republican position is that 1)doctors who perform abortions should be subject to legal sanctions, 2)women who procure abortions should not, 3)the historical de facto exception for affluent white women in the actual enforcement of abortion laws should be ignored and 4)we should respect the opinions of the majority of American people who if we took our own underlying premises remotely seriously are advocates of murder. Far from being a deeply principled position that we should pay rhetorical homage to even if we are forced to disagree, the current Republican position on abortion is a moral, legal, political and ethical shambles. It’s time we stop the mealy-mouthing and point this out whenever possible. The values of women’s freedom and equality are far more compelling that whatever values underlay the completely incoherent and indefensible positions of most contemporary “pro-lifers.”