Guest Column

Projection is being used as a weapon against the pro-life movement

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health has been handed down, with the Court overturning Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), returning abortion policy to the states for the first time since 1973. As soon as this possibility became apparent, pro-abortion domestic terrorists began vandalizing crisis pregnancy centers, interrupting church services, intimidating worshippers, and even published the home addresses of Supreme Court justices, culminating with the attempted assassination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

But the worst may be yet to come, as a recent communique from the radical pro-abortion group “Jane’s Revenge,” outlined in a recent National Review article, chillingly clarifies. Wesley J. Smith rightly worries that we will relive “Bleeding Kansas,” where pro and anti-slavery settlers clashed in an ugly foreboding of the coming Civil War. Meanwhile, the Jane’s Revenge communique calls pro-lifers “enslavers,” who “make life more difficult.” Speaking of similarities to the Antebellum slavery debates, Jane’s Revenge exhibits the same rhetorical tendency that the pro-slavery movement did: projection.

Anna Freud, daughter of famed psychologist Sigmund Freud, described “projection” as the process by which people accuse others of harboring the unacceptable urges or ideas they themselves possess, thus allowing themselves to justify their ideas or actions. In this regard, the pro-abortion and pro-slavery movements are kissing cousins: if one dares recognize the injustice, he is accused of “enslavement,” “stirring up trouble,” or “limiting rights,” as if no other party to either slavery (the slave) or abortion (the unborn child) with rights of their own existed. A brief read of slavery’s and abortion’s foremost defenders reveals disturbingly parallel projection.

Speaking in the U.S. Senate, South Carolina statesman John C. Calhoun said that those who did not stand up to abolitionism “are prepared to become slaves,” as if the anti-slavery cause wanted to enslave the slaveowners.

After Georgia’s 1861 secession, Senator Robert Toombs declared in his farewell speech that if the government did not protect slaveowners’ supposed “property rights” in the territories, “you cannot have free subjects or citizens; you may have slaves.” Toombs also stated that the southern states wanted “equality” with the north, apparently unaware that simultaneously defending slavery and “equality” is nonsensical.

READ: Law professor claims abortion is necessary because motherhood is slavery

Other examples are plentiful, although the two above are illustrative of the phenomenon: slave-owning aristocrats accused anti-slavery Americans of wanting to “enslave” the slaveowners. Abraham Lincoln, analogizing to this phenomenon, said, “The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one,” and implored Americans to “repudiate the wolf’s dictionary.”

The same projectionist language haunts pro-abortion circles. Yesterday’s communique from Jane’s Revenge calling pregnancy care centers “enslavers” is but the latest installment. Displaying a stunning lack of self-awareness, abortion activist Renee Bracey Sherman wrote in the New York Times, ““It’s easier to strip us of our rights when we’re not treated as humans… Language matters and it leads to violence.” Indeed it does — when unborn children are routinely compared to “parasites” and “clumps of cells,” it assuages misgivings about slaughtering them by the tens of millions. The pro-life movement does not treat anyone as “not humans.” Some of its leaders are women who have had past abortions. But the pro-abortion case requires us to ignore the humanity of others. Similarly, in Robin Stevenson’s book, “My Body, My Choice,” a group of demonstrators are seen wearing T-shirts that read, “The Right to Live. The Right to Safe Abortion,” as if the two sentences do not conflict, as if pro-lifers threaten anyone’s rights to life.

Beyond these few prominent examples, there are numerous others in passing conversations, on social media, or elsewhere, in which we are told that restricting legal abortion will “threaten women’s lives.” This is pure projection — abortion takes lives, and with it the human dignity that undergirds our civil society.

For moral people, projection is necessary to justify misdeeds. This tendency lined the speeches of slavery’s defenders in the years preceding the Civil War, and it today predominates pro-abortion op-eds, talking points, social media posts, and terror manifestos. Pro-lifers should learn to recognize projectionist language and answer it lovingly but forcefully wherever presented.

There is only one side of the abortion debate that dehumanizes anyone, one side that is a “threat to democracy,” one side that “threatens life.” With all requisite grace and mercy, we must not let radicals obfuscate that truth. Repudiate the wolf’s dictionary.

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