Hadley Arkes understands the stakes here.
...A regime may not be challenged frontally, with an overt attack on its defining principles. But a regime may be decisively undermined from within as political men – and judges – make the public more and more suggestible to premises that are quite at odds with the moral premises of the regime.
This was the work, as Lincoln said, of “the miner and the sapper.” Lincoln offered as a case in point, Senator Pettit of Indiana, who insisted that the self-evident “truth” of the Declaration of Independence was a “self-evident lie.”
That self-evident truth was that no man was by nature the ruler of other men, as men were by nature the rulers over horses and cows. The only rightful governance over human beings had to be drawn from the “consent of the governed.” Pettit was an officer of high standing in that government built on those premises of “all men are created equal.” Yet he expressed contempt for the premises on which his own authority rested....
He goes on to make the point on the matter of abortion.
...Conservative jurists in our own day speak of sending the question of abortion to the separate States to decide just whether the child in the womb is really a human being, with a claim to the protections of the law – as though there were no truth about the matter.....as if there were no truth to the matter. In other words, to deny what is, as Fr. Schall would put it.
In the same way, Stephen Douglas made the case for federalism by pointing up the diversity of interests and manners. Indiana has laws favoring the local crop of cranberries; Maine has pine lumber. . .and some States simply have slave labor. Where, asked Lincoln, is the “parallel between these things and this institution of slavery?” To put these things on the same plane, as Lincoln said, was to liken slavery to morally “indifferent things” – and cultivate our own indifference.
With his powers of compression, Lincoln distilled Douglas’s position: “that if one man chooses to make a slave of another man, neither that other man nor anybody else has a right to object.” This is what has been heralded in our day as “privacy.” If people wish to deny the human standing of the child in the womb, and destroy the child as it suits their interest, no one else has the standing to object....
It's not just abortion, of course.
...The Founders thought that the case for government by consent began with our awareness of what was evident, in nature, as a human being. But now the very definition of a human would depend on the “positive law” fashioned by judges and legislators – and without any standards of truth, outside the positive law, by which that positive law may be measured. And in that way, we talk ourselves out of the very premises of regime grounded in the rights that flow to human beings by nature....
ALL the rights, friends.