Sometimes, you really don’t need to read any further:
Among the most regular of motifs one can find in the contest over abortion is the contention that it’s “complex.” “A complex subject.” “A complex debate.” “Legally complex.” And each of those formulations has at least some measure of validity. But not this one: “A complex moral debate.”
Morals are about right and wrong, no? The dividing line that separates what you may from what you mustn’t. That cannot be complex. A specific act is on one side or the other; it cannot be in both places at once.
Pro-choicers who are “troubled” by late-term abortions have begun to feel a tickle from their consciences. The six-month-old fetus looks very much like what we’ll call him on the other side of the womb: a human baby. It’s not possible to convince oneself that he’s not a human being with a right to life merely because of where he currently resides. And with that, the conscience pangs begin.
Pro-lifers are strong proponents of ultrasound imaging for that reason among others: Look at what you’re proposing to kill. Confront the reality. Once the mother-to-be has done so, how could she serenely contemplate snuffing him out before he can draw a breath?
But we should not stop at the appearance alone. While most people have no serious interest in philosophical questions, there’s one that’s too germane to the abortion controversy to be waved aside: If he’s recognizably a baby today, what was he before this?
The legal aspects of forbidding abortion after some point in gestation are complex, owing to Fourth Amendment-derived rules about bodily privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality. The morality of the matter is not – no matter on which side of the dividing line you prefer to put it.