If we suddenly stopped arguing about the legality of abortion and just skipped straight to an appeal to morality independent of legality (if that’s even possible), how would people react?
Secular Pro-Life once talked about how 68% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal after the first trimester. The blog post ends by asking, “Why, then, has it been so difficult to unify and enact meaningful change?”
One of the blog followers commented,
Most pro-choicers that I know do not think abortion should be legal after a certain stage of the pregnancy. As for the policy making (just speaking of the conservative side), abortion bills are usually written by/for or framed in such a way that makes them appear more as small steps towards making abortion completely illegal. They do not come across, despite what some policy makers say, as “for the benefit of the woman or society”, but as part of a larger agenda by very religious conservative people. That makes average/everyday pro-choicers very nervous and so it is fought.
How many people would work to legally restrict abortion if they weren’t afraid that the end goal was to legally eliminate abortion?
Similarly, how many people would work to legally restrict abortion if they were confident that exceptions for the life of the mother and for rape would be preserved?
Even if we could change hearts and minds such that no one chose to get an abortion, I think I’d still want abortion to be legally restricted. After all, what does it say about my society that it is legal to kill an innocent person, even if no one actually chooses to do it? What would you think of a society in which it technically wasn’t illegal to kill an infant, even if no one ever chose to do it?
But sometimes I do wonder if, on a practical level, the pro-life movement could get more done with a different strategy.