President Obama issued a statement today to mark the forty-first anniversary of Roe v. Wade. A mere paragraph long, it contains enough euphemism, evasion, and outright falsehood to serve simultaneously as a model of dissimulation and concision.
1. “We” The statement begins by saying “as we reflect” on Roe “we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle.” But who is this we? Obama issues his statement in his official capacity as head of state, but America is sorely divided. By a generous measure, only 53 percent of Americans support Roe. When Obama pledges his rhetorical “we” to the principle of Roe, he elides one half of the nation he leads.
2. “Her body” The President says that “every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.” This statement would certainly be true (given a few broad caveats) if he did not mean by it that one person should be able to dismantle the body and destroy the health of another.
3. “Safe, affordable health care” For abortion to be safe, it would have to not be directed at the death of a child; for it to be affordable, it would have to not come at the cost of a life; for it to be health care, it would have to not violate the Hippocratic oath. This may be one lie or threeit’s hard to keep count.
4. “Right to privacy” There can be no right to the taking of an innocent life. Nor can there be anything private about it for a society that believes securing rights to be a matter of the public good.
5. “Reproductive freedom” There is no debate over the freedom of reproduction, only over the freedom of destruction.
6. “Unintended pregnancy” What is meant here, of course, is an unintended child. But in any case, the idea that life is legitimate only when it is the product of our intentionsthat everything should be perfectly “planned”is at once impossible and perverse, a sociological error reflecting a theological mistake.
7. “Child health” President Obama’s purported support for child health runs counter to his continuing, unrepented opposition to laws banning infanticidean opposition that distinguishes him not only from abortion opponents but from most abortion supporters as well.
8. “This is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.” This is indeed such a country, as is every other. Why then, Mr. President, do you continue to stand in the way of the very weakest realizing the equal freedom you so blithely invoke?
Here’s the statement in full:
Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.