The list of those who have had few or no legal rights throughout history is staggering: women, children, orphans, widows, Jews, gays and lesbians, slaves, former slaves, descendants of slaves, those with leprosy, undocumented immigrants — to name a few.

Nothing marks the progress of any society more than the expansion of human rights to those who formerly lacked them. I believe that if such progress is to continue, prenatal human beings will be included in this group, and we will consider elective abortion primitive and cruel in the future.

The eradication of abortion may be difficult to imagine. But consider how difficult it would have been for our grandparents to foresee a culture in which nearly one in four women has an abortion by age 45. Certainly, some factors leading to this situation reflect real and substantial progress for women: greater equality, more work options, improved understanding of sexuality, and increased moral agency. But rights for women that come at the expense of unborn children aren’t true liberation; they merely, as one writer put it, enable the “redistribution of oppression.”