|Val Demings’s Abortion Incoherence
August 29, 2022
|In an interview with CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede yesterday, Representative Val Demings… stated that she supported “abortions up to the point of viability.” But when pressed about when, precisely, the point of viability happens, Demings demurred.
So which is it, congresswoman? Does your support for abortion rights end after the point of viability — i.e., would you support restrictions on abortion after the point of viability — or do you support women and doctors being able to decide when viability occurs? If it’s the latter, then Demings is essentially endorsing unrestricted abortion access, so long as the “decision” about “what the point of viability is” can be made “in the privacy of that doctor’s office.” Running in an increasingly red state, Demings has made the calculated decision to stress that her support for abortion ends “at viability.” But “viability” doesn’t mean anything if there’s no concrete legal definition of when it actually occurs…
Think about the framework Demings is using, as applied to any other political issue: I support a ban on fracking on public lands — but it’s up to the oil companies, in the privacy of their own boardrooms, to decide what “public lands” are. I support gun rights up to the point of assault rifles — but gun owners should have the opportunity to counsel with their gun manufacturers, and their manufacturers can tell us what an “assault rifle” is. I support restricting low-skilled immigration, but the migrants attempting to enter the country are really the ones who should get to decide if that classification applies to them.
This is not how functional laws work. In order for a law to actually be a law, it has to mean something. This was the fundamental incoherence of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s infamous “mystery” line in Planned Parenthood v. Casey — “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Well, no. To have liberty, you need laws, and to have laws, you need some kind of shared consensus about the “concept of existence.” We cannot each decide for ourselves what the law means — that is the essence of anarchy. One would think that Demings, who touted her history in law enforcement just moments before arguing that “viability” is whatever we make of it, would know better.
|Read the full piece here.