What Newsweek knew

There’s this debate in America, or what I think is often a sort of pretend debate, about the moral status of the human life that’s in the womb of a pregnant woman. That is, about what precise it is that a woman is pregnant with.

We’re left with two troublesome factions in American life, neither of which do a good enough job stating what they’re after, but one of which tends to purposely confuse in its use of language by making an issue that is obviously about the value of human life into a question of the choice of the strong triumphing over the contextually weak.

The common sense civic debate Americans should be having, which boils down to how one of the wealthiest and most privileged societies in human history should be creating a wide and broad social safety net to ensure that no unexpectedly pregnant woman is encouraged to abort her child because we’re able to provide her with a continuum of care that ensures her life is not “over” due to that child—from incredible welfare benefits to education/workforce training, to child stipends until the child is of a certain age, to housing, etc. But we don’t have that conversation, and that’s largely a scandal and fault of Planned Parenthood and other “choice” advocates who in practice offer only one choice: abortion. They receive more than a billion in public funding annually, and pro-choice attitudes dominate in the media, and yet they’re not using their power and influence to broaden the public debate about the range of options that should be offered to pregnant woman. At minimum, that’s a failure of imagination.

And in the meantime, Americans sometimes debate about what exactly is in the womb. Is it a person deserving of legal protections our constitution claims to offer? Or does is have a lesser moral or legal status? Are 20 week limits on abortion, when we believe the creature can feel pain, for instance, extreme? That’s what we’re debating today.

The development of 4D ultrasound, and of modern medical technologies, help us see into the womb in ways that were impossible when Roe v. Wade was decided. We know more today than Americans could have then. That’s what I grew up hearing.

Yet here’s what Newsweek featured on its cover in 1975:

1975-03 Newsweek Cover

That’s human life at four months. And it was featured on the cover of a major news magazine months after Roe v. Wade was handed down. Do we know less in 2018 than what Newsweek knew in 1975? We know what’s in the womb, and it seems like we’ve always known. Psychologically, biologically, scientifically we know what abortion does. The questions are all political and cultural and social.

Why we don’t at least mandate that Planned Parenthood be funded to aggressively promote adoption and women’s education and workforce training and childhood stipends, etc. as much as it does abortion is anyone’s guess.

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