The Corner

Law & the Courts

Culture, Politics, and Life

Attendees at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., January 18, 2019 (Katie Yoder/National Review)

The Bulwark ran another thoughtful pro-life essay last week that I’ve been meaning to note. Sarah Quinlan argues that opponents of abortion must change the culture, not only the law. That’s right and important, and no doubt some pro-lifers could use the reminder. I think, though, that she puts a foot wrong when she suggests that it might be “time to move overturning Roe or implementing restrictive abortion legislation to the bottom of the priorities list entirely.”

These are perennial debates among pro-lifers, and the debates perennially suffer from a tendency to view culture and law as separate boxes. It makes more sense to view law as a part of culture, and a part that influences that larger whole. Quinlan implicitly affirms this view when she recommends various public policies that she believes will move the culture in a pro-life direction. Whether abortion is prohibited, regulated, or subsidized surely belongs high on the list of public-policy questions that can affect its place in our culture. Over the last generation, public policy, public opinion, and the number of abortions have all moved in the direction that pro-lifers want (albeit more slowly than we want). I suspect this is not a coincidence.

Pro-lifers have another reason for wanting to change the abortion laws, beyond their effect on abortion rates: They’re unjust. It is gravely unjust for the Supreme Court to amend our nation’s highest law to say that certain human beings are unpersons who can be subjected to lethal violence without legal consequence. And that injustice is inseparable from the injustice of abortion itself. Why do pro-lifers want to change the culture to make abortion less prevalent? Because it’s the unjust taking of a human life. Different pro-lifers have different roles to play in acting on that conviction. But there should be no question that it requires us to work to change the law too.

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content (including the magazine), no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (conference calls, social-media groups, etc.). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going. Consider it?

If you enjoyed this article, and were stimulated by its contents, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.

LEARN MORE
Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Hillary Ruins the Plan

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the first in a series of excerpts.  There really was a collusion plot. It really did target our election system. It absolutely sought to usurp our capacity for ... Read More
Religion

Another Pop-Culture Christian Loses His Faith

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and ... Read More
Culture

Max Boot’s Dishonesty

Before yesterday, my primary criticism of the Washington Post’s Max Boot was political in nature. As I wrote in a recent book review, I found it regrettable that Boot’s opposition to the president had not prevented him from “succumbing reactively to Trump’s cult of personality, or from making Trump the ... Read More
Elections

A Brief History of Election Meddling

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the second in a series of excerpts. ‘The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Thus spoke President Barack Obama just a couple of weeks before ... Read More
World

The End of Hong Kong as We Know It

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for more than four months now, and no matter how the current crisis concludes in the coming days or weeks, it will mark the end of Hong Kong as we know it. The protests started in response to an extradition bill that was proposed by the city’s Beijing-backed ... Read More