Will absolutists “always lose”? Bloomberg gets it wrong on Roe

A whole article full of fail. Really depressing.

We are not militants. (Photo credit: Bethany Bolen)

Yesterday, the editors of Bloomberg put out an opinion article in which they decried the positions of “absolutists” on the abortion issue. In fairness, they seemed to be equally as troubled by the Democrat party’s shift away from “safe, legal, and rare” abortions as they were by the position of pro-lifers who oppose rape, incest, or life-of-the-mother exceptions.

Yet the editors were not necessarily troubled because they disagreed with the new Democrat position. Instead, they revealed their idea that such a position will never win in America:

With anti-abortion militants increasingly dominating the Republican Party, Democrats appear tempted to retreat from the muddled middle and hunker down on their own fringe. That would be a moral miscalculation and a political blunder. It is precisely the ambivalent middle of the debate that most deserves reinforcing.

With a phrase like “anti-abortion militants,” it’s not that difficult to tell that Bloomberg‘s editors don’t exactly sympathize with the unborn child. In their attempt to convince readers that the “middle of the debate” is the place to be, Bloomberg gets it wrong, time and time again. Let’s dissect a bit of their article and uncover the reality of a few issues they raise, shall we?

First, why should we encourage Americans to reinforce an “ambivalent” position on such an important issue? Ambivalent is defined as “unsure: having mixed, uncertain, or conflicting feelings about something.” Science is clear. Human life begins at fertilization. The Declaration of Independence is clear. Men are created equal, not born equal. The medical facts are clear. Abortion ends the life of a new, unique human being. Take away the laws on abortion, and even our laws are clear. No reason, other than self-defense or the defense of others in certain circumstances, is a good enough reason to kill an innocent human being. Why should a mother be the one person with an exception? This is not an issue that calls for uncertainty and mixed feelings. It calls for resolution.

Bloomberg discusses Mourdock and Akin – two politicians who have recently encountered plenty of opposition after their statements concerning pregnancy, rape, and abortion. For the context of my article, I’ll leave Mourdock and Akin alone, other than saying this: I entirely agree that rape should not be a justification for abortion. Why should a child be punished for the crimes of her father? But both of these men should have found better ways – much better ways – to explain their position.

The editors make a rather odd – and obvious – statement:

Mourdock opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, which is a logical position to hold if you believe a fertilized egg is fully human. In that case, there can be no distinction between abortion and murder.

The problem is that there’s no “believing” on whether or not a “fertilized egg” is “fully human.” Pick up any embryology textbook – even a decades-old one. You will read that at the moment of fertilization, a new human life has begun. Of course there is life. Dead things don’t grow. And of course this life is human. Humans don’t reproduce cats, dolphins, rocks, or flowers last time I checked. So really, if you don’t believe that the life created at the moment of fertilization is fully human, you’re drowning in a sea of your own lies. But not to fear: this can be quickly remedied by picking up a science textbook.

The place where Bloomberg really got it wrong, though, is in the editors’ evaluation of Roe v. Wade:

Critics have derided Roe v. Wade as a kind of legal Frankenstein cobbled together from spare parts in the murky shadows — penumbra, if you prefer — of the Constitution. We won’t rise here to defend the architecture of one of the judiciary’s most inelegant compromises. But what Roe lacks in constitutional aesthetics it more than compensates for in political acumen.

The decision legalizes abortion while placing parameters on it, in particular the higher hurdle for abortions after the fetus achieves viability. By qualifying the right, the Supreme Court underscored the consensus view that abortion is a matter of serious conscience and consequence. In effect, it shaped its decision in accord with the notion that abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare.’

He can be killed on demand; this is not compromise. (Human fetus at 7 weeks of development.)

First, Roe was not a “compromise.” Forcing the entire country to allow abortion on demand is not a compromise. Yes, I realize that Roe allowed for states to place some limitations on abortion. But these limits were small and, for the most part, had yet to be put in place. Until they were put in place, there was – and still is – abortion on demand in the majority of the United States, thanks to Roe. At the time Roe was handed down, abortion was fully legal in only four statesRoe was not a compromise by any definition of the word.

Next, I have more than a slight quibble with calling Roe a judgment full of “political acumen.” Acumen is “quickness, accuracy, and keenness of judgment or insight.” Do we really want to claim this for the Court who couldn’t bother to decide when life begins because – in their minds – since other people couldn’t figure it out, neither could they? Leave aside the fact that that is an inaccurate statement. Accurate or not, it’s hardly insightful or keen. And if Bloomberg thinks a muddled decision like Roe, which relied in some part on blatant lies, contains plenty of political acumen, what does that say for the state of our politics?

Third, Bloomberg‘s editors must truly fail to understand how difficult it is to limit abortion, thanks to Roe. Viability, depending on your source, occurs at 21 weeks today, but it was placed at 24-28 weeks in Roe. Over 98% of abortions occur before 21 weeks. Even at that point, states are not allowed to fully ban abortion; they can still only limit it. Granted, I agree with exceptions for the life of the mother because people on both sides of the aisle claim either 1) that abortion is not ever necessary to save a mother’s life or 2) the procedures used to save a mother’s life are not intended to kill the baby, but to save her, so they are not technically even abortions (think chemotherapy, the removal of an ectopic pregnancy, etc.).

Fourth, Bloomberg ought to realize that we do not share a consensus with abortion supporters that abortion “is a matter of serious conscience and consequence.” No, no, it’s much more serious than that. Abortion supporters may be pleased to make an agreement like that, but not we. It’s not just “serious” to kill your child. It’s wrong, dead wrong – pun intended. Civilized Americans are not happy to agree with child abductors and murderers that their actions are “a matter of serious conscience and consequence.” No, abortion and child murder both end lives, just at different points in time. Both are unacceptable, period.

And finally, please don’t feed us the “junk” (to put it nicely) that Roe was decided with the thought that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Roe allowed for 88% of abortions (those done in the first trimester) to be forced on the states without real limitations. And Roe demanded that 98% of abortions had to be allowed with very few limits. Basically, the states were truly allowed to care about the unborn child in only 2% of all abortion cases. Bloomberg, you need a new definition of “rare.”

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