Health Care

Manifest Injustice

Pro-abortion demonstrators in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in 2016. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Explicit support for abortion “all the way up to 40 weeks” is increasingly becoming a mainstream Democratic position. The quote is from Kathy Tran, a Virginia state legislator; but her bill has the support of the state’s supposedly moderate governor, Ralph Northam, who in defending it suggested that in some circumstances a full-term child should be delivered and then (at least) allowed to die.

Most Democrats still would not go as far as Northam. But Tran’s position is shared by New York Democrats, who have passed a law stipulating that abortion at any stage of pregnancy is legal so long as an abortionist says it is necessary to protect a pregnant woman’s health. The law does not claim that the pregnancy itself has to threaten her health and does not limit health to physical health. It is a restriction designed to be unenforceable, and thus also to be deceptive.

Many of the leading Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed similar federal legislation: It would wipe away any state laws that protected unborn children even late in pregnancy. Bans could remain on the books only if they included health exceptions rendering them, too, unenforceable.

These Democrats are aware that the public does not share their enthusiasm for abortion late in pregnancy, and so they are explaining that it is only ever done for the most compelling medical reasons. Northam says that they are only done in cases of severe fetal abnormality or unviability. The available evidence does not bear out this contention, but the laws these Democrats support do not require such reasons anyway. Northam wants to deny any legal protections even for children who are viable and suffer no abnormalities. So do those presidential candidates.

Killing a two-month-old infant is rightly prohibited and punished. Unborn children late in pregnancy differ from two-month-olds in no way that could plausibly justify this radical difference in treatment. To allow them to be killed, to expose them to lethal violence, to treat them as non-persons, is manifestly unjust. It is unjust to do these things even if one does not directly participate in the killing. And that injustice lays moral obligations on all of us.

Those Democrats who have taken this extreme position should reconsider it. Those who have not should repudiate it. Republicans should expose the Democrats’ indefensible position to the light. So should journalists, by reporting on the Democrats’ stance rather than simply repeating their spin. Catholic bishops should stir themselves to do real pastoral work on those Catholic politicians who have fallen into this grievous moral error, which includes reminding them that those who obstinately persist in it have broken communion with the Church.

And the Supreme Court — which believes, or pretends to believe, that the Constitution requires this policy of abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy, a contention as absurd as it is outrageous — should find the earliest occasion possible to reverse its mistake.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

Most Popular

U.S.

First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More
U.S.

First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

No, Martin Luther King Was Not Pro-Riot

Among the more contemptible rhetorical tricks used this past weekend was the hijacking of Martin Luther King Jr. to enlist him in the cause of rioting. Celebrities, activists, leading journalistic institutions, and even the Martin Luther King Jr. Center itself are participating in a misinformation campaign by ... Read More
Politics & Policy

No, Martin Luther King Was Not Pro-Riot

Among the more contemptible rhetorical tricks used this past weekend was the hijacking of Martin Luther King Jr. to enlist him in the cause of rioting. Celebrities, activists, leading journalistic institutions, and even the Martin Luther King Jr. Center itself are participating in a misinformation campaign by ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Is It Revolution?

I knew I was tempting fate a week ago when I said that the coming nomination of Joe Biden and the COVID-19 pandemic had put America’s politics on chill during this election year. Little did I know that days later we’d be making analogies to 1968. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman moved ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Is It Revolution?

I knew I was tempting fate a week ago when I said that the coming nomination of Joe Biden and the COVID-19 pandemic had put America’s politics on chill during this election year. Little did I know that days later we’d be making analogies to 1968. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman moved ... Read More
PC Culture

For Looters, Looting Is Fun

One important thing to realize about looting is that it's usually enjoyable for those engaged in it, who exult in the momentary suspension of any rules. Just a couple of examples from the last couple of days (language ... Read More
PC Culture

For Looters, Looting Is Fun

One important thing to realize about looting is that it's usually enjoyable for those engaged in it, who exult in the momentary suspension of any rules. Just a couple of examples from the last couple of days (language ... Read More