You make some good points , Nick, but I still support the current journalistic usage of describing pro-lifers as “opponents of abortion rights.”


Of course, it is probably true that the use of the word “rights” both reflects and encourages a bias against pro-lifers. As we all know, our society has a pathological love of anything calling itself a “right,” so describing a position as an opposition to somebody’s right rather weights the dice against it. (I should acknowledge in fairness that most media outlets also talk about supporters and opponents of “gun rights.”)


But it is precisely because I want to attack that cultural
infatuation with rights that I don’t mind being described as against abortion rights. Framing it that way allows one to foreground and frontally attack the mindless individualism at the heart of the “culture of choice” that nurtures abortion in the first place.


I also think that using the word rights is more helpful because it pinpoints what is primarily at issue in the fierce political contest that has been going on since Roe v. Wade . This battle is mainly being fought to decide what the law of the land should be with respect to abortion.


The debate about whether abortion is wrong or right is of blindingly obvious relevance, but it is distinct. It is clear that not everything that is morally impermissible must be banned and that not everything that is morally permissible must be legalized, so what you think about abortion does not determine what you think about abortion rights. There are, famously, people who think abortion is wrong who do not think it should be illegal, and I have met people who think it generally permissible but who think for other reasons that it should be restricted.


What generally matters to political journalists and their readers are the political consequences of an opinion. Whatever your reasons, what do you think should be done , and therefore what will you advocate for, who will be your allies and who will be your opponents in the public square?


Here the major division is between those who believe that the state should try to directly prevent abortions and those who think it should not. It is, to put it more simply, a struggle between the opponents and supporters of abortion rights , not abortion.

Articles by Stefan McDaniel

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