“Chipping away” at abortion is a misleading metaphor

By Dave Andrusko

March20135The metaphor of “chipping away” at “abortion rights” was pretty much a household staple in media coverage of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And, of course, it was used before and since: how could it not be when there were “hundreds” of restrictions proposed (not passed, by the way) over the past two years?

A piece by Lucas Kawa for the Business Insider is fairly typical. It started simplistically and went downhill from there. (See “How the Anti-Abortion Movement Has Slowly Chipped Away At Abortion Rights”)

Nothing pro-lifers have ever done to limit public funding of abortion, or afford women a fighting chance to know something about their unborn child, or clean up the hellholes like abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society, or prevent dismembering unborn babies capable of experiencing unimaginable pain finds favor with Mr. Kawa.

Hugely positive legislation, such as the Hyde Amendment, is distorted. It does not, alas, “prohibit federal funding of abortions,” with the implication that there is a government-wide prohibition. The Hyde Amendment is VERY important—at least one million Americans are alive who would not be otherwise. However it applies to money that flows through the HHS appropriations bill but not, for example, to the federal funds that will subsidize health plans that cover elective abortion under ObamaCare. 

Likewise, we keep being told that demanding minimal standards from abortion clinics that have grown used to being left unsupervised is “bizarre,” according to Kawa.

But the “chipping away” metaphor is misleading in two ways. It implies a solid foundation. Roe (and its companion case Doe v. Bolton) always rested on shaky grounds. The Supreme Court made up its abortion jurisprudence largely out of whole cloth, and as the primitive technology which rendered the unborn invisible 40 years ago is replaced with full color 4D ultrasound (and even better technology), it grows preposterous to see the unborn as anything other than a younger member of the family.

And there is an unmistakable inference that something worthy is crumbling, one chip at a time. Nothing could be further from the trouble.

Roe and Doe were legal, moral, ethical, and philosophical disasters from the beginning. In that light perhaps a better metaphor is that Roe and Doe are like a house of cards about to collapse.

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