George Will

     ``Some legislators, such as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, are pro-choice but have voting records judged almost perfect by the National Right to Life Committee. This is because regarding the only policy choices possible in the context of Roe -- about, for example, late-term abortions, parental notification, public funding -- people can be pro-choice with nuances. That is one reason why in 2004 one-third of pro-choice voters supported me.

     ``I rarely recommend reading The American Prospect, a liberal monthly that considers me one of nature's blunders, but do read Deputy Editor Sarah Blustain's essay in the December issue. She, like increasing numbers of thoughtful supporters of abortion rights, finds the way some pro-choice people talk about abortion -- entirely in a defiant and even celebratory language of rights -- to be insufficiently nuanced. 'After all,' she says, 'abortion is a right that ends in sorrow, not celebration. It's not like women's suffrage or the equal access to public accommodations, rights whose outcome is emotionally unambiguous.'

     ``Blustain believes that to her generation -- she is in her 30s -- making the choice of a legal abortion `is no longer something to celebrate. It is a decision made in crisis, and it is never one made happily.' Who is not thankful that the number of abortions in America declined by 300,000 in the 1990s? But who can be complacent about the continuing termination of lives in those numbers?

     ``That a life begins at conception is a biological fact, not a theological tenet. The agonizing question for thoughtful people concerns when, if ever, abortion is a victimless act. The increasing sophistication of prenatal medicine, and modern sonograms revealing the formation of eyes and a beating heart six weeks into the pregnancy, have a powerfully felt pertinence to the sorrow that Blustain rightly says attends abortion.

     ``But when, with Roe, the court overturned all state abortion laws -- 50 communities' judgments about this -- the court truncated democratic deliberations that, in the five years prior to Roe, had liberalized abortion laws in 16 states with 41 percent of the population. If the case for abortion rights is as strong as its proponents think, they should welcome the 50 debates. That -- the vitality and integrity of American democracy and federalism, not abortion -- should be the subject of our deliberations about judicial nominees.''


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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