We know that “I’m personally pro-life, but can’t make that choice for anyone else” is one of the most cowardly and thoughtless ways to weasel through abortion discussions, because it ignores all the salient facts of the issue and pretends there’s only one person at stake in it. Whenever a kid-killing apologist deploys it, pro-lifers have a field day demolishing the mess it makes of morality, science, and rights.
However, the claim to be reluctantly pro-“choice” is also highly susceptible from the other end of its logic. And in working toward abolishing abortion, it is invaluable to systematically demolish our opponents’ every rhetorical hiding place.
Usually the admission that they find abortion distasteful in some way isn’t an earnest, considered conviction, but rather a halfhearted disclaimer meant to seem reasonably moderate and deflect unpleasant character questions before directing the subject away from that messy “morality” stuff as soon as possible.
So let’s hone in on that for a while. Put aside the question of legality and temporarily assume for the sake of argument that the “right” to abortion will never be uprooted.
People have the right to do plenty of shameful things, and legality doesn’t mean immunity from criticism. People have the right to throw out perfectly good food they’re never going to eat, but we wouldn’t be afraid to call that a rotten thing to do if they could have just dropped it off at the local food bank.
So let’s ask: how deep does your “personal opposition” to abortion truly run?
In your mind, is there any such thing as a bad reason to abort? (Shockingly, lots of Jezebel readers say no.)
Are you willing to call it selfish and cold-hearted to have a developing fetus destroyed because giving birth would be inconvenient to one’s financial situation or social life?
If someone chooses to abort because her baby has been diagnosed with a disability or deformity, or justifies an abortion on the grounds that the child would just be “unwanted” anyway, can you recognize the arrogance of presuming to know the full worth of anyone else’s life and future?
Can you recognize that the overwhelming majority of abortions are for pregnancies that were entirely preventable, and therefore result from irresponsibility? Whatever else you may favor to reduce unplanned pregnancy, are you willing to acknowledge that personal behavior is a necessary component of the solution?
And when you see abortion cheered and celebrated and joked about, when you hear people claim there’s nothing to regret about it, how do you react? Would you criticize people for being callous and thoughtless, or credit their perspectives as reasonable?
If so, then hopefully we can have a productive conversation about the right policies to pursue, and perhaps find some common ground on which to reopen the legality question.
But if not, if you can’t bring yourself to say anything negative about the choice to abort even after banning it has been tabled, then it seems your “personal opposition” isn’t so personal after all.