Friday, October 15, 2004

Kerry is wrong on abortion.

That's right. I said it. But I don't mean it in the way you're thinking....

I don't mean that Kerry is wrong on protecting Roe v. Wade and on opposing an abortion ban. What I do mean is that Kerry's defense of and rationale for his position is wrong. Kerry has said more than once that he personally opposes abortion (citing his Catholic faith) but that he can't legislate his morality and impose it on others.

What can this possibly mean? Every political decision involves a choice of values, a choice of morals. When we choose to ban murder, it is because we value life. It is because murder is emphatically immoral. When we choose to ban racial discrimination, it is because we value equality and because bigotry is terribly immoral. The government imposes values and morals on people every day, in myriad ways and, where such an imposition is necessary to protect others, this is perfectly proper. Merely saying that opposing abortion is a "moral decision" is no answer.

There are legitimate reasons to oppose an abortion ban. One such reason is the well-supported empirical claim that a ban is an ineffective way to prevent abortions. Why doesn't Kerry articulate this? I suspect it is because it would require him to unambiguously state his opposition to abortion and desire to discourage it. This would probably offend some of the most radical secular liberals who do view the decision to have an abortion as a decision which implicates only the mother's rights.

Kerry's "value choice" position is unsound. But it probably plays to a wider cut of the electorate than my position.


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