But by giving new legal status to a fetus, it "will clearly place into federal law a definition of life that will chip away at the right to choose as outlined in Roe v. Wade," the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said.I haven't read Roe v. Wade in a long time -- I don't remember whether it includes a stipulation as to whether a fetus is alive. If it did, and the bill contradicts it, then it's unconstitutional and someone should say so. If it doesn't, then Roe doesn't depend on such a definition. In general, slippery slope arguments are just plain bad. If there's something wrong with the *bill*, then say what it is. After all, if there's *nothing* wrong with the bill, and it's a just law that should be adopted, AND, as the Democrats are alleging, it would undermine Roe v. Wade, that's at least a prima facia case that Roe v. Wade ought to be undermined.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Bad slippery slopes again
If we permit homosexual marriage, then we'll permit polygamy, and polygamy is bad! Therefore we shouldn't permit homosexual marriage. That's been a cry of the Right for months now. And it's a terrible argument form, of which the Left is also very guilty of employing. There's some big controversy about a bill that's working its way through Washington right now that would make it an additional crime to hurt or kill a fetus on an attack on a pregnant woman. It's an interesting question, whether that law is appropriate or not. I don't have a strong opinion either way. But other people do, and it's not because they've thought it through more carefully. The Democrats are up in arms about this proposed law -- but not because they disapprove of double-counting for a single assault, or because they don't think that a fetus is a valuable thing that should be protected by law. Rather, they think that the law would lay the groundwork for the undermining of abortion rights. To match the above form: If we criminalize harming a fetus in an attack, then we might value the human fetus too much and overturn Roe v. Wade. And overturning Roe v. Wade is bad! Therefore, we shouldn't criminalize harming a fetus in an attack. More shocking still, the Democrats actually admit to this motive, and base their rhetoric on it: