The Corner

Hart’s Conservatism

Jonah, I agree with you that Jeff is “always worth reading.” But I find some of his remarks puzzling. Does Jeff really believe that the South and the Sunbelt are dumber, less educated, and less prudent than the Northeast? That certainly seems to be what he’s saying.

Does he really think that Roe’s protection of eighth-month abortions grew out of popular demand? It may, of course, be that Jeff is unaware of Roe’s real scope. As I explain in my forthcoming book, there has been a lot of misinformation about it, and this misinformation has affected even very well educated people.

Obviously Roe didn’t “arrive from nowhere”; many people wanted it. But if it was so rooted in social actuality, why didn’t any legislature in the country enact a similar law beforehand? And why were many states (e.g., Michigan) rejecting liberalization that fell short of Roe?

Jeff’s assertion that Roe was “libertarian,” meanwhile, is question-begging. If the fetus has no more rights than a kumquat, then he’s right. But whether it has rights is precisely what’s at issue. If the Supreme Court declared it open season on Italians, we wouldn’t call it a “libertarian ruling.”

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

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