With the Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of a ban on Partial Birth Abortion, debate about what it will mean is now raging. Cass Sunstein argues that Ginsburg’s dissent founded in an argument about female equality rather than in a so-called "privacy right" offers pro-abortion forces a better footing for their position and that she is likely to get support for that view in future court appointments. About that last point, I believe he is likely to be correct. But I do not despair. I would like the debate to shift to a real argument about the meaning of equality rather than focus on this nebulous concept of "privacy." Why? Because it seems to me that a fair hearing of the case will lead a rational person to conclude that equal rights for women does not mean we can or must change nature so as to make women’s access to sex equally devoid of consequences as that of men’s. Equality does not demand that we become the same. If there is an argument to be made on behalf of equality, it must be in favor of the equal right to life that a baby has as well as its mother. So bring it on, Ruth.
Earlier this week when the decision was handed down, there was some question about how conservatives should respond. I argued here that we should be cheered by this turn of events and welcome the shifting ground in this too-long inert debate. Kathleen Parker has taken exactly the kind of step I had hoped to see conservative commentators take. We have to keep the momentum going, insist on precision in the language, and refuse to shrink in the face of offending people’s feelings or sensibilities . . . at least for awhile. People have grown tired of the abortion debate precisely because it has been so successfully characterized as a dry and dusty debate about privacy and rights. Let’s talk about equality and what it means to be a human being. It is long, long overdue.