ABORTION IS MUR MILDLY DISAGREEABLE….Jonathan Rauch reviews Ramesh Ponnuru’s Party of Death today in the New York Times. Over at NRO, Jonah Goldberg calls the review “fair and sensible” and says Rauch is “one of the sharpest minds and most decent souls around.” Here’s what Rauch says:

?Eight-week-old fetuses do not differ from 10-day-old babies in any way that would justify killing the former,? [Ponnuru] writes. ?The law will either treat the fetus as a human being with a right to be protected from unjust killing or it will not.? If those are the only choices, and if the right position is that an early-term fetus is a full-fledged person, why not impose jail terms on women who seek abortions? After all, they are taking out a contract for murder. Instead of confronting that question, Ponnuru equivocates, mumbling that ?the pro-life movement? does not necessarily seek jail time for women and that fining doctors and revoking medical licenses might suffice.

….Ponnuru says the issue should be returned to the states and abortion then banned in increments. He does not say what he thinks abortion law should finally look like, or how the hardest cases should be handled, or what to do about the surreptitious abortions that a ban would inevitably bring (though he does observe that antibiotics have made black-market abortions safer). One can be sure that if he were on the other side of the issue, he would zestfully denounce those omissions as tactical pirouettes.

This is pretty much precisely the question all the rest of us have been asking Ponnuru all along. But back when we were asking it we were berated for not taking the issue seriously and not confronting Ponnuru’s razor-sharp moral logic. But now that Rauch brings it up, it’s “fair and sensible.”

Whatever. I’ll take what I can get, I guess. But can we now finally get a straightforward answer to this question without the usual shilly shallying? In Ponnuru’s world, why should people who murder fetuses or allow their fetuses to be murdered get off with nothing more than a stern warning?

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