nothing magical about a 55 mph speed limit


Senior Member

When does human life begin? Many abortion opponents focus on the fact that life is a continuum, from embryo through fetus to baby and beyond. Where do you draw the line, if not at the very start of this process? But the law frequently draws lines simply because a line needs to be drawn. There is nothing magical about a 55 mph speed limit, as opposed to 56 mph or 54 mph.

I cannot guess the meaning of the last sentence of the paragraph.
Would you please help me?
  • pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    It means exactly what the previous sentence says: that the speed limit is 55 because that's a nice, round number, not because that's the perfect speed for cars to go.

    The author (and you didn't give us the source, as is required here) is drawing an analogy between that and the abortion situation, saying a limit has to be placed somwhere.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    As an added backgrund note: 55 miles per hour was adopted arbitrarily as a maximum speed on U.S. highways in 1973, ostensibly as a gas-saving measure. (See HERE)

    That no longer is the case, but many highways in the U.S. still have speed limits of 55 miles per hour and the reasons given by pob14 apply.


    Senior Member
    English, AE
    Just to add to SD's note, it was also noted at the time that highway deaths rose because drivers were bored into carelessness and 'fell asleep' while drivng for the extended time it took to complete a long trip. When later attempts were made to extend the 55mph as a national speed limit to save lives, many were quick to point out to the "55-saves-lives" crowd, that it was not a magical number as the proponents wanted to believe. The magical 55, it seems after researching it, did not save lives. It is a real life example they can point to to illustrate their point.


    Senior Member
    The writer, as a pro-choice activist, uses the 55mph limit to support a notion that an abortion at an early pregnancy does not consitute a life-killing, because an early satge fetus doesn't arguably feel pain. Only in a later stage of the pregnancy when a lively moving fetus develops into a living being, can an abortion on it be banned.

    He may imply that a proper line should be drawn between a legal abortion and a life killing. But definitely, he does not agree with those pro-life people who may think an early stage fetus is a life.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Speed limits are usually given in multiples of 5 mph or 5 km/hr because those are round numbers. Similarly, the defining lines for other things (such as the definition of "abortion" at both ends, between contraception and murder, in this example) are often drawn where it's practical to draw them, not necessarily at the theoretically ideal point.
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