The very first plank in the ASP platform states: “We believe that respect for the dignity of human life is the most basic tenet of a civilized society. This dignity is unconditional, it is never reduced by factors such as usefulness or wantedness. From the moment of conception until natural death, every human being is entitled to protection under the law, to just treatment and to equitable consideration.”
At the same time, we are realistic about the obstacles to making that vision reality. Recently, the New State Legislature passed, and Governor Cuomo signed into law, the “Reproductive Health Act,” which repealed the state’s already-loose limits on the stage of pregnancy when abortions could be performed and even repealed a requirement that babies born alive after a botched abortion receive the medical care that would ordinarily be owed to any other sort of patient. (See this article for a fair and clear summary of what the new law does and doesn’t do.) The logical effect of the law is to deny the status of legal personhood to late-term fetuses and babies who survive abortion. For all practical purposes, they are now considered disposable property. Certain other states are considering very similar bills, and at this writing at least one of them may already have passed.
Why now? State governments controlled by the Democratic Party genuinely fear that, given the current and likely future makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, both Roe v Wade (1973) and subsequent decisions taking Roe as precedent could be overturned. That would return the abortion issue to the states. Said governments want to be proactive in insulating their states from that possibility. Amazingly, they aim to do so by passing laws removing even such restrictions on abortion that Roe and its offshoots permit.
That attitude is common in much of what’s called “blue America.” In the context of the rest of our platform, most members could agree that the following statement by Anthony Esolen, the most recent translator of Dante into English and Fellow in Residence at Thomas More College, is apropos:
“…let the pro-life movement be advised: We are really asking for a moral revolution. If the child lives, the mother’s life will not be the same, because if we accept the principles that allow the child to live, none of our lives can be the same. There is no way to guarantee, as some pro-life people seem to want us to do, a world safe for the unborn child that is also a world of total sexual and economic autonomy. In any world in which autonomy is the highest ideal, the child—that incarnate sign of our dependence and existential poverty—must go.”
The ASP platform does indeed reject the all-too-influential ideal of “total sexual and economic autonomy” which makes abortion “rights” inevitable. It is the only party platform on offer that, if implemented, would make America safe for the unborn child. It is pro-life from womb to tomb. In a polity not as pro-life as that, abortion will persist as a practical reality.
Short of complete success, however, there are a few encouraging signs. The Ohio Senate recently passed a bill that would make abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected, except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk. That would effectively ban all second- and third-trimester abortions. As of this writing, the House is expected to pass the bill, and Governor DeWine has already vowed to sign it. Several other states are considering similar measures.
Opponents argue that such laws would be unconstitutional. Given current SCOTUS jurisprudence, they probably are. But that jurisprudence could well change. The fears of pro-abortion politicians about the future direction of the Court are not unfounded.
Longer-term trends are also encouraging. Polls indicate that Americans under 40 are generally more pro-life than their parents. The abortion rate has been slowly but steadily declining for years. If our nation hangs together and the material conditions of life for the average person continue to improve, we can expect abortion to become virtually unthinkable a century from now. Getting the principles of our platform passed into law, and our candidates elected, could only facilitate that future.
Author: Michael Liccione, PhD