Last month, Kansas’s supreme court found in this from the state constitution — “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — a reason to overturn the state’s ban on D&E (dilation-and-evacuation) abortions that involve dismemberment of the living fetus. In February, after Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker signed an executive order to enforce taxpayer-funded abortions, Democratic legislators decided that not even that was enough. They introduced a bill to create a right to abortion for any reason at any point in a pregnancy, a bill similar to legislation enacted or advancing in other Democratic-controlled states. In February, all but three Democratic U.S. senators opposed, thereby killing, Nebraska senator Ben Sasse’s Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would have required, in the rare cases in which a child survives a botched abortion procedure, that the survivor receive the standard professional care that would be given to any child born alive at the same gestational age.
The 1850s debates that propelled Abraham Lincoln to greatness concerned not whether slavery should be abolished forthwith, which was neither a constitutional nor a political possibility. Rather, the debates concerned two other questions: Would national policy stigmatize slavery as a tragic legacy and a moral wrong? And: Would policy confine slavery to its existing dominion by banning it from the territories, thereby, Lincoln thought, putting it on a path to ultimate extinction?