Today I realized a huge implication of our country's current abortion jurisprudence: it's set up so that eventually the Constitution will not protect any abortions!
The fact that I hadn't yet realized this made me feel a little obtuse, but hey, better late then never, right? I am personally convinced that life begins at conception, and therefore in the abortion debate I've centered my thoughts around this idea. This means that I'm usually arguing against the current abortion regime, which uses viability as the relevant point in determining whether or not the state has an interest in protecting the fetus. The Supreme Court has said that prior to viability there is a right to an abortion, while after viability that right can be restricted by the state.
In arguing that life begins at conception, I've always pointed out the reasons why viability is an unsuitable alternative. The general gist of my argument against viability is that it is unstable; the better the technology available in a particular time and location, the earlier the fetus will be considered viable. As our technology gets better, fetuses are viable at a younger age. Yet, "When does life begin?" is not the type of question that should have a transient answer. The answer should be fixed and consistent.
Today it finally occurred to me that using viability as a relevant criteria in the debate is a problem for pro-choice advocates as well. Think about it: as technology progresses, viability happens at a younger and younger age. Not only that, but we are able to sustain - and even create - new life outside of the womb. Presumably someday medical science will progress to the point that a fetus can be conceived and nurtured completely outside of the womb.
When technology advances to that point, viability will be coterminous with conception. The natural conclusion is that when medical science advances far enough, states will be allowed to outlaw all abortions. The rule will be the same - after viability all abortions can be outlawed - but the practical effect will be very different. I don't know how many pro-choice advocates are aware of the issue, but someday they may hate the same legal regime they now hail.
It's so hard to see streets on a country road