The Washington Post had
a very clever editorial last Friday on abortion - with the very
clever title, "Not aCrushing Burden." The "burden" referred
to is Virginia's new law requiring that women receive information
about "abortion and its alternatives" and wait 24 hours before
getting an abortion. "There is indeed something offensive in
a legislature's determining what women should be told, and when,
as well as what constitutes proper pre-abortion counseling,"
the editors write.
But, says the Post, since women can get the counseling
over the phone and since the waiting period might even help
guarantee that women who get abortions have no regrets, the
law is tolerable. In other words: It is not a law we would want
or propose ourselves, but it is one we can accept. Hence the
title: "Not a Crushing Burden."
By contemporary Democratic standards, the Post's "not a crushing
burden" position is very moderate indeed. Pro-abortion advocates
have called the new law the "Women Are Stupid Act" - just the
latest example of their contempt for those who believe abortion
is wrong, and their strange enthusiasm for abortion as a source
of power, dignity, and independence.
Still, the Post's piece clearly falls under the category
of to praise with faint criticism. Examine the Post's
logic: The legislature has no right to regulate personal behavior,
i.e., to tell women what to do and when. But the Post
- and the Democratic Left in general - is ever willing to regulate
personal behavior with "codes," "laws" and "waiting periods."
The Left regulates property owners to protect the environment.
It regulates tobacco companies to protect children from smoking.
It regulates gun-owners with waiting periods to, as the Post
put it in a recent editorial, "prevent hotheads from one-stop
shopping." Why is the Post - and the Left - not "offended"
by "legislatures" telling these groups what to do and how to
live? The answer is simple: It sees these things and these groups
- guns and gun owners, land developers and oil companies, smoking
and tobacco companies - as evil. And so it has the moral confidence
and political will to use the power of the state to regulate
and restrict them - since it believes society as a whole has
a stake in telling these people what to do and how to live.
This inconsistency is hard for conservatives to swallow: Is
the Alaskan Wildlife Preserve a beautiful part of the created
world that deserves protection by law but an unborn child not?
Is smoking really more evil than performing abortions? Should
gun-buyers have to wait three to seven days to buy a gun but
women not have any social duties or restrictions when they get
an abortion? What is at issue for the Left is more than just
choice. It is the desire for the state - and for society at
large - to recognize abortion as a right and even a good.
Perhaps the two sides can strike a deal - tie environmental
protection to protection of the unborn, regulation of tobacco
companies with regulation of abortion clinics, waiting periods
for guns with waiting periods for abortions. I, for one, would
take any such deal in a minute. Would my friends on the Left?