The New York Times published an article last week about possible new legislation regarding abortion standards in the United States.
The House of Representatives voted 242-184 to ban most abortions after 20 weeks. The current Supreme Court ruling on fetal viability is currently 22-24 weeks after fertilization. While it is likely that this particular bill will be shot down in the Senate, it is nevertheless an important step in the conversation about abortion.
Two quotes from the article most accurately depict the ongoing struggle between those in favor of and against abortion:
- “‘No matter how it is shouted down, or what distortions, deceptive what-ifs, distractions, diversions, gotchas, twisting of words, changing the subject or blatant falsehoods the abortion industry hurls at this bill and its supporters,’ said Representative Trent Franks, the Arizona Republican who introduced the measure, ‘this bill is a deeply sincere effort, beginning at their sixth month of pregnancy, to protect both mothers and their pain-capable unborn babies from the atrocity of late-term abortion on demand.'”
- “‘Every woman has a constitutional right to make health care choices in the manner she sees fit, and everyone in America should see this cynical attempt to seize control from women for what it is,’ Ms. DeGette and Ms. Slaughter said in a statement on Tuesday.”
Notice that each quote of value-laden terminology—the first focuses on the fetus’s ability to feel pain, even going so far as to call the fetus a baby. The second quote, on the other hand, focuses on women’s rights and the notion of patriarchal control and manipulation. While there is still this much difficulty in establishing language that doesn’t automatically estrange one side or the other, it is unlikely that any real change in legislation is possible.
I do, however, find it encouraging that these difficulties have not rendered the issue moot and caused it fade from view. When an issue seems as insurmountable as this one, the easy thing would be to do one’s best to ignore it, but the only way for progress to become feasible is to continue in open discourse.