CAN THIS ARGUMENT BE SAVED? In response to my claim that the exemption of women from punishment under laws banning abortion is fatally incoherent, a commenter here (as a TAPPED commenter did earlier) invokes Ronald Dworkin's argument that abortion is a "cosmic shame" that nonetheless doesn't rise to the level of murder. The commenter says:
I have some sympathy for that argument even though I don't accept the premise (that abortion is at least morally problematic because it shows "disrespect for life".) Dworkin argues that this is really the position of most abortion opponents- that they do not in fact think that abortion is murder, and that they don't think this is shown through their actions. That part seems exactly right...If you have a position like this it doesn't seem implausible that one might think that abortion should be illegal, but might still think that those having abortions should not punished. I don't find that an attractive option myself, and hope I'd not find it to be one even if I did think that abortion showed disrespect for life, but it's not an incoherent one.
The problem is that adopting Dworkin's position makes things worse, not better, for pro-lifers:
The argument that most pro-lifers don't really see abortion as comparable to murder (which, as was the point of my argument, is certainly correct) makes their position weaker, not stronger. Seeing abortion as a difficult, ambiguous moral problem makes criminalizing abortion almost impossible to defend if any value is placed on reproductive autonomy at all.
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(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)