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Editorial: Where are the real ‘extremes’ in the abortion debate?

Catholics and others of good will who oppose legalized abortion in defense of the right to life have grown accustomed to being accused of “extremism.”  

Now, this raises a whole host of questions, beginning with the ones Pope Francis posed in a recent press conference aboard the papal airplane: “It is a human life, period. And this human life must be respected. This principle is so clear, and to those who cannot understand, I would ask two questions: Is it right to kill a human life to solve a problem? Scientifically, it is a human life. The second question: Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem?” 

What, exactly, is “extreme” about recognizing that the correct answer to these questions is no? 

As has become clear in recent years, it is actually the other side of this debate that is demonstrably extreme. Due to various U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the United States already has among the fewest legal restrictions on abortion of any country in the world — the entire European Union is more restrictive of late term abortions than the United States, for instance. 

And yet it’s become clear that advocates of legal abortion are not satisfied with this. Consider the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month that would not only establish in federal law a legal right to abortion on demand at all stages of pregnancy but according to critics would overturn a host of widely supported state laws such as waiting periods, informed consent laws, conscience protections for medical professionals who object to abortion, and even laws designed to make abortions safer for women. And as has already been established, abortion advocates have also been working hard to open the floodgates of federal taxpayer funding for abortion. 

These policies are extreme by any reasonable measure. 

It’s probably too much to expect that many of our cultural institutions will treat that reality in an even-handed way. But those of us paying attention to the abortion debate should not be fooled by that rhetorical sleight of hand. When it comes to abortion extremism, it's staring us right in the face, right in the halls of Congress.