The GOP's abortion conundrum

Think of it this way: If these 48 percent of Americans who believe abortion is morally wrong also thought abortion really was murder, then Americans in overwhelming numbers wouldn’t feel in their bones that there was something deeply wrong about forcing victims of rape and incest to have the babies. If a plurality of Americans really believed abortion was murder, they would make peace with charging mothers who opt for abortion under any circumstance with homicide — as the brilliant conservative polemicist Kevin Williamson lost his job at The Atlantic for suggesting.

Now obviously, the vast majority of Americans do not believe this. It would mean penalizing victims for something that is clearly no fault of their own. But if abortion were murder, surely many Americans would think that forcing even the victim of a crime to have a baby, unjust as it might be, would be less bad than condoning something as horrible as murder.

Instead, the pro-life lobby itself has gone out of its way to depict mothers as victims needing help, not criminals requiring capital punishment, Williamson notwithstanding. But they may no longer view this as a sustainable strategy if, once Roe is overturned, pro-lifers insist on accomplishing their long-stated goal of banning abortions after 20 weeks as a prelude to a complete ban.

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