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Completely missing why the abortion issue has “political staying power”

by | Apr 16, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Thomas Edsall

Thomas Edsall

Many times it seems as if the preponderance of pro-abortion columns/op-eds is limited to “my goodness, those radical anti-choicers are passing bills like it’s going out of style” and “Jeez, these @#$% people are obsessed with controlling women’s sexuality.”

They’re not incompatible, if you assume—as these writers do—either that we are duping the public (which is the politically correct thing to say) or the public is stupid (which is not).

But, really, do people, such New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall, actually believe that the explanation for why pro-lifers fight to protect unborn babies is that our core beliefs are essentially indistinguishable from cultures that do not allow women out in public alone? That resistance to abortion is a “characteristic male obsession,” a quote he extracts from Steven Pinker, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard?

Edsall meanders around in pursuit of an explanation of what he calls the abortion issue’s “political staying power.” Not to make too big a point of this, but here is a guy who has followed politics for various liberal, pro-abortion publications for decades and yet here’s how he explains Roe v. Wade:

“Medically induced termination of pregnancy became a major source of political contention on Jan. 22, 1973, the day the Supreme Court issued its 7-2 decision in Roe v Wade.

“In Roe, the court ruled that restrictions on abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy ‘violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy.’”

Forty one years later and someone like Edsall can reduce this most contentious of moral issue to vacuous “medically induced termination of pregnancy” language and imply that abortion is not legal after the first trimester. I mean, really.

Anyway, Edsall’s strategy is to give a passing nod to why we oppose abortion (“for opponents it is an issue of life and death”) and then devote the rest of the column to two oddly joined concerns.

First, he adds the voices of a couple of men (a.k.a, “a disparate group of contemporary experts “) who do not hew to feminist orthodoxy, line by line, but who nonetheless agree with pro-abortion feminists. Why? Because this demonstrates “These thoughts are by no means the opinions of women only.”

So he spends a few paragraphs quoting these “experts” to explain–by implication–that the staying power of the abortion issue (by which he means our Movement) is (a) entirely driven by males who are (b) driven by evolutionary anxiety, that is, an instinctive desire to pass on our own genes. This is not only unrelievedly stupid, it could also be said to disprove evolution: the argument has not changed an iota since the 1960s.

Edsall’s beginning and end make for interesting bookends. He begins the abortion segment of his column by quoting the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute whose primary job, it seems, is to document the lamentable passage of wave after wave of pro-life legislation. Then he ends with the prospect of Republicans controlling both houses of Congress after the fall election and even winning the presidency in 2016.

So where is all this to-ing and fro-ing going? Here’s his penultimate paragraph:

“Surprisingly, perhaps, there are still a sizeable number of Americans who want to put the women’s rights genie back in the bottle.”

“Surprising”? “Perhaps”? Not at all, if you ignore the foolishness of his “disparate group of contemporary experts”; recall that abortion is essentially legal on demand throughout pregnancy, not just the first trimester; and recall the enduring truth that women are more pro-life than men!

His real advice/conclusion is contained in the last paragraph—that while all this may have worked for Republicans (at least through 2016), “With all of their demographic problems, the question is, how much can Republicans afford to fool around with this particular kind of political dynamite?”

A better question would be this. With Democrats almost uniformly in the camp of abortion on demand for any reason or no reason; with Democrats almost uniformly comfortable with killing pain-capable unborn children; and with Democrats almost uniformly counting not on the power of their own arguments for abortion but foolish comments by pro-life candidates, isn’t the “political dynamite” that is the abortion issue likely to blow up in their faces?

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Categories: Pro-Lifers