Recent abortion news adds to the never-ending battle about whether politics is downstream from culture or the other way around. Typically conservatives have always believed the former, which often explains their approach to controversial political issues like gay marriage and abortion. With abortions at an all-time low, the Department of Justice investigating Planned Parenthood, and more and more legislation at the state level which regulates abortion, one wonders if indeed culture is actually downstream from politics.
This week lawmakers in Ohio passed legislation which would penalize doctors for aborting unborn babies who test positive for Down’s syndrome, which may essentially ban the practice in the state.
Under the proposed law, physicians who violate the proposed ban would face a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. They could also lose their license to practice medicine and face lawsuits if the woman is injured or dies because of the prohibited abortion.
Those pushing the bill say it will save lives. American women choose to terminate pregnancies between 50 and 85 percent of the time after receiving a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome, according to a study published in 2012 in the medical journal Prenatal Diagnosis.
The legislation is just another step toward reducing abortions via regulations. In her piece on the topic of what comes first, politics or culture, Maggie Gallagher said abortion is one of the most salient examples of the reversal of the common adage most conservatives active in politics have been counting on for the last decade.
To keep our moral principles in the mainstream, we need high-profile political commitments that command the loyalty of significant chunks of the electorate. The sanctity of life provides the most obvious example. The left would like to brand the pro-life position as outside the mainstream, but cannot. The reason why rests in the political salience of our position, not the left’s “fair-mindedness.”
This is more evident every day. This week 50 members of the medical community in Britain worked to save this baby born three weeks prematurely and with her heart outside her body, giving her a 10 percent chance of survival. With medical expertise and one imagines, sheer grit, she is recovering from the life-altering surgery. Obviously Britain’s laws and culture are different from ours, but there are times we mirror one another in positive and negative ways (remember Charlie Gard?). Still, one might think that another generation would have simply opted to abort the baby with such a difficult condition and little chance of survival. Instead, doctors attempted to figure out a way to save her life—and did.
I’m not entirely sure if culture is downstream from politics or the other way around--sometimes, on issues like abortion, the two are so intertwined and complex, it’s hard to tell where one begins and the other end. In retrospect, it almost seems like the power of Roe v. Wade faded over decades and American culture on its own began to be repulsed by so much abortion, which is why stats keep lowering. Or, perhaps, pro-life advocates, exhausted from fighting Roe, began to institute regulations on abortion at the state level, thereby forcing women (culture) to rethink Roe, and thus they began to shift on abortion.
Either way, the two seem to be playing off each other and a culture of life continues to spread.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
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