The Corner

Rod Dreher on a Culture of Life

I agree with the thrust of what he (along with Patrick Deneen) is saying. Pro-lifers sometimes place too much emphasis on government instead of culture, and even when thinking about government place too much emphasis on the judiciary. But they seem to me to go too far in the opposite direction.

Deneen writes that “you don’t really need to reverse Roe v. Wade to ‘win’ the abortion battle if you persuade people that the language and philosophy of choice needs to be replaced by the language and philosophy of duty and obligation.” How likely is it that we will change the culture when the Supreme Court guarantees abortion through all nine months of pregnancy as a constitutional right? We will be in a much better position to affect the culture if Roe goes.

Dreher worries that “all overturning Roe would do is leave abortion policy up to the states–most of which would take about two days to restore Roe’s protections.” Very few states would, I think, go as far as Roe. It is certainly true that many states would protect a right to abortions early in pregnancy, when most of them take place. But other states wouldn’t, which would be an improvement, and would help to demonstrate that restrictions can work and not have terrible effects. And in every state, pro-lifers would be free to press for further improvements in the laws.

It’s because law and culture affect each other that pro-lifers adopted an incrementalist strategy in the first place. It’s still the right one. 

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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