The irreplaceable James Taranto devotes his Best of the Web Today column to a wide-ranging and highly illuminating discussion of the politics of abortion in the United States. Taranto is not quite fully pro-life, but he is very close, and his piece is one of the best analyses you’ll ever read on the political aspects of abortion and its legal regulation. A few samples:
Here is incontrovertible proof that . . . the murder trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell has received insufficient media coverage: On Friday, Snopes.com was compelled to publish a page confirming that the story is real, not merely an urban legend.
What accounts for the media’s lack of interest in a trial that not only is sensational but implicates the most divisive social and political issue in America? PJMedia.com’s Roger L. Simon has the answer: “The trial of Dr. Gosnell is a potential time bomb exploding in the conventional liberal narrative on abortion itself.” . . .
A funny thing happens when you dissent from Roe v. Wade: You come to see that there’s not much else by way of intellectual content to the case for abortion on demand. . . . [T]hese days the appeal to the authority of Roe is pretty much all there is apart from sloganeering, name-calling, appeals to self-interest and an emphasis on difficult and unusual cases such as pregnancy due to rape. . . .
When you dissent from Roe v. Wade, you notice that people committed to the pro-abortion side almost never acknowledge that the question of abortion poses a conflict of rights or of legitimate interests. Try to pin them down as to where they’d draw the line–at what point in fetal development does abortion become unacceptable? It’s pretty much impossible. The court in Casey said abortion could be restricted after 23 to 24 weeks, earlier than Roe’s 28 weeks, but groups like Planned Parenthood oppose restrictions on late-term abortion, too. All they care about is “a woman’s right to choose.”
[T]he Gosnell case has crystallized our view that the current regime of abortion on demand in America is a grave evil that ought to be abolished. It is murderous, if not categorically then at least in its extreme manifestations. Maintaining it requires an assault on language and logic that has taken on a totalitarian character. And it is politically poisonous. . . .
To avoid confronting the reality of what they were doing, Gosnell and his employees spoke in an elaborate euphemistic code. A baby wasn’t born, “the fetus precipitated.” Gosnell didn’t slash it to death, he “snipped” it to “ensure fetal demise.” . . .
This Orwellian use of language was a commonality between the Gosnellites and the “safe and legal” abortion crowd. “Pro-choice” itself is one such euphemism. Lots of political movements are in favor of one or another form of “choice,” but this is the only one we can think of that cries foul if you specify the choice that they’re pro. The National Rifle Association surely would not object to being characterized as “pro-gun.” . . .
Most news organizations have adopted this pro-abortion doublespeak as a matter of style. The New York Times, for example, characterizes the two sides as “abortion-rights” and “antiabortion.” That at least has the virtue of acknowledging that the debate is about abortion, but it still tips the scale in favor of the pro-abortion side by acknowledging its claims of rights but not the antiabortion side’s. And then there’s the ever-popular “procedure whose opponents call it partial-birth abortion.” What do its supporters call it? And who are they? . . .
Perhaps the most pernicious manifestation of this incivility is the effort to turn the sexes against each other—or perhaps more accurately the effort to cow men into submission. The imaginary “war on women” rages on: “Man, the feeding frenzy over Gosnell is a sobering reminder of how much hatred there is out there towards women,” tweeted Slate’s Amanda Marcotte Saturday. . . .
If you’re a man and you’re opposed to or uncertain about abortion, you’ve almost certainly had a woman tell you that because of your sex, you have no right to your opinion about the subject. . . . It’s idiotic, offensive and indicative of a war on men. . . .
One Gosnell patient . . . told the Associated Press that she had intended to go to a Planned Parenthood clinic but was scared away by antiabortion protesters.
Well, why were the protesters there? Again, the answer comes back to the Roe regime. Normally if you think a law is unjust, you take your case to lawmakers. But a march on Harrisburg would be futile. Even if Pennsylvania legislators agree with the protesters that abortion is murder, they can’t do anything about it. The Supreme Court has tied their hands. So the protesters, driven by a sincere belief that innocent children are in jeopardy of being murdered, go to the scene of the “crime” to try to stop it before it happens, through the power of persuasion. . . .
One advantage the abortion lobby has is widespread complicity. If abortion is evil, almost everybody is at least a little bit guilty. There have been more than 50 million abortions in America since 1973, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Maybe you’ve had, or facilitated, one. Very likely someone you know has had one, and do you want to call her a murderer? (If no one you know has had an abortion, what makes you think you know that?) Probably you’ve had sex for the pleasure of it, not wanting a baby to result. People were doing that before Roe, of course, but the nationwide deregulation of abortion made it a lot less risky, or at least made it seem so.
But go read the whole column, which is available here.