Vigliotti: What the ongoing debate about abortion reveals

Abortion has reemerged as an issue of primary importance as Democrats prepare for a presidential contest packed with potential candidates, and as President Donald Trump is set to announce his reelection campaign. As with most issues at present, there is more to the abortion issue than first appears; and this necessarily raises a number of questions that must be addressed by the Left.

The American debate on abortion had really become that: a debate. Abortion lawmaking had largely settled into something of a hiatus as both pro-life advocates and abortion supporters entered into a contest of moral ideas to persuade others of their positions.


But the Left re-inaugurated a clash of laws between states, beginning around New York’s horrific abortion-until-birth laws, and the unconscionable promoting of infanticide by some Virginia liberals. Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, and other states have responded in kind with their own pro-life efforts, seeking to protect pre-born (and born) babies — with even some Democrats supporting pro-life measures. A number of writers and thinkers have argued that the stage has been set for a Supreme Court “rematch” of Roe v. Wade.

While there is a genuine moral reason underlying pro-life efforts, make no mistake that the sudden resuscitation of abortion as an issue by some on the Left is for a political purpose. Their efforts to delegitimize President Trump through the Mueller investigation have failed, and against a backdrop of economic improvement, an illegal immigration crisis, and events such as Russia test-firing an advanced hypersonic missile, continued false accusations of collusion and obstruction are lost. So the Democrats have gone for a social issue they know can be divisive, as most moral issues are.

The reason why moral issues often take so long to resolve is that these are questions of a nature far deeper and greater than infrastructure or taxes. They are issues that involve faith and religion, human and legal rights, philosophy and practical experience, society, science, culture, and personal understanding. As a result, most Americans want to do what is morally right — and they worry about getting things wrong.

The philosophy that has guided conservatives (such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush) has been to always err on the side of life. In fact, Reagan’s essay Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation makes precisely that moral point through the example that one would never bury another unless one knew the other was dead. The same caution, Reagan argued, should be applied when it came to abortion.

Bush drew on religious, American, and human rights principles when he argued that the United States should be a culture of life. But he was also arguing from a standpoint of biological evidence, as science has consistently demonstrated life begins at conception.

These are among those different points brought to bear recently in places like Georgia, and they raise a series of questions the Left will have to consider in the midst of pro-life endeavors.

Some on the Left are cheering about how abortion-providing centers are now raising record donations from private citizens in such circumstances. If this is so, does it demonstrate that government-appropriated taxpayer dollars are really not needed for those centers? And if such centers are capable of being sustained through private contributions, why does the Left insist public money be used for them instead?

And if, as if some on the Left argue, what a woman does with her body is a matter of privacy, why are public funds being used for private purposes? And, if the Left is interested in absolute gender equality and neutrality, why argue that men should have no place in the abortion debate? Let us say for the sake of argument that only women should have the right to determine laws on abortion. How do those same individuals on the Left account for recent polls which have demonstrated that a majority of women do in fact want restrictions on abortion?

Many of the strongest pro-life voices at present are women, ranging from governors to advocates like Lila Rose to young conservative women’s groups like Future Female Leaders. For those liberal men who believe they have no say in the debate, perhaps it’s best to at least hear the perspective of pro-life women. For conservative, pro-life men who do believe we have a say in the debate, we can draw strength and inspiration from those pro-life women and remain active alongside them.

States may enact laws counter to one another, and the Supreme Court may issue rulings, but in the end, it is hearts and minds which have to be persuaded and won. It is clear we Americans are still seeking the true and moral way forward on so important an issue. The way is life — and love.