The Corner

Kerry’s Latest Abortion Comments

I understand the impulse to refer to them as “gobbledygook,” as Geraghty does, but I think that’s not quite right. If I understand him correctly, he is suggesting that from conception until some future stage of development that he does not specify, there is a human being there who does not count as a person. If you accept a distinction between “human beings” and “persons,” which I find monstrous but many people apparently do not, that could make a kind of sense. (I think the distinction would also generate logical consequences Kerry does not wish to embrace.)

I’m also not sure how to square the comment with his earlier statements that he opposes abortion “personally”–why does he oppose it, if it’s not personicide?–and that he shares the “Catholic belief” about abortion. Those statements, made earlier this month, were already incoherent: The “Catholic belief” about abortion is that it is unjust, as is its legality, and so he clearly does not share it. I’m left unsure what exactly he thinks is the specifically Catholic view that the law cannot impose: that it’s wrong to kill human beings even when others don’t consider them to be persons? that they’re human beings in the first place? So I’ll give Geraghty a verdict of gobbledygook for the candidate’s comments as a whole.

There are certainly a lot of follow-up questions worth asking: for example, when does Kerry think personhood emerges?

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.

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