Are Obama and Pelosi dodging the life-and-death question?

Newsweek
The Democrats and the Abortion Wars

Are Obama and Pelosi dodging the life-and-death question?

George Weigel
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 8:38 PM ET Aug 25, 2008

A few years ago, Richard Doerflinger, a pro-life Roman Catholic intellectual with decades of experience in the trenches of America’s culture wars, was invited to debate the moral and legal status of the human embryo before a large class of Harvard undergraduates. During the course of the discussion, Doerflinger’s Harvard faculty interlocutor drew a timeline of human biological development on the blackboard: conception, implantation, brain waves, viability, birth and so forth. His challenge to Doerflinger was to defend, in a nonarbitrary way and without reference to religious principles, the notion that society should recognize moral value and legal rights at any particular point along that line. If here, why here? If there, why there?

After the class, as the conversation continued with a few students and the professor, Doerflinger took a piece of chalk and extended the timeline to the end of the blackboard, where he wrote “Tenure.” The students laughed, and got the message. The only point along that continuum that wouldn’t be arbitrary was the starting point—conception.

Perhaps Doerflinger should send his extended timeline to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

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