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Pro-lifers have won the intellectual battle over abortion

by | Jan 27, 2015


By Dave Andrusko

Michael Novak

Michael Novak

Earlier today I had meant to take some time to whack away at the latest nonsense from David Grimes, an old pro-abortion warhorse who insists with tedious regularity that anyone who dissents from his orthodoxy is [fill in the blank]. Most recently pro-lifers are (repeat after me) anti-science. Sigh.

But sometimes the race goes not to the quick but to those whose daily demands put them behind schedule—in this case, me. I mean by that I just ran across a terrific piece that appeared on the website written by Michael Novak.

I first met Mr. Novak when he gave a lecture when I was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota in the 1970s. He was pro-life and brilliant then; he is just as pro-life and even sharper now.

His piece is titled “Abortion: The Intellectual Battle Has Been Won.” He begins with a very clever parallel.

Just as “Communism died as an idea fifteen years before the Berlin Wall was pushed over,” Novak argues something similar is happening in the abortion debate. While “This great fact may take a decade or more to become evident to all,” he writes, “the intellectual underpinnings of the abortion regime have washed away. Four forces washed them away: science, technology, dishonesty, hypocrisy.”

Naomi Wolf

Naomi Wolf

I don’t want to spoil how he unspools his insights, so please read his post in its entirety. Instead I will just talk about Novak’s use of the argument of pro-abortion feminist Naomi Wolf.

I’ve written several times about Wolf’s 1995 essay most recently in 2013. Wolf went to great lengths to show that because most people are acutely uncomfortable with abortion, “amoral rhetoric” is hugely counterproductive.

Such insensitivity conveys the impression that women are destroying their babies for “self-absorbed reasons.” To Wolf, this cedes discussion about right and wrong to pro-lifers. “Pro-choicers,” she maintained, need to frankly talk about “good and evil.” This signals that they are not making up their morality on the run, but are, in some sense, accountable.

Novak put it more succinctly and more eloquently than I did. He observed

Naomi Wolfe’s point was that in the long run, it would be better at least to speak honestly, even if that seemed more shocking. Otherwise, those in favor of abortion would sound less trustworthy, speaking in roundabout euphemisms. They would sound like they were covering up what they are really advocating. They would be caught up in a tangle of evasions – and even self-deceptions.

Novak concludes with these wonderfully encouraging words:

The intellectual battle has been won. Patient political efforts in persuasion are now the best way … to make the abortion regime fade into oblivion, to be remembered in the future as a dark period in American history.

Categories: Abortion