By Dave Andrusko
Increasingly over the years I have made a point of exchanging emails with people who would describe themselves (if they were pressed) as “thoughtfully pro-choice.” That appellation, loaded as it with the idea that they had reached their position by careful analysis, allows them to keep their distance from the “militants on both sides” and keep their personal ambivalence under wraps. (The atrocities allegedly committed by abortionist Kermit Gosnell clearly are weighing on their minds.)
I mention that because this week I have talked to several of my correspondents about a piece that appeared last Friday in the Washington Post. Written by Frances Kissling, it’s titled “Abortion rights are under attack, and pro-choice advocates are caught in a time warp.”
(See “Pro-Abortionists Offer Bogus Concessions to Fend Off Pressure for Real Change”).
Kissling is the former President of Catholics for Choice. In certain circles—i.e., among “thoughtful pro-choicers”—she is held in high esteem for what I would describe as her attempt to thread the needle. Kissling is doing public battle with those in the pro-abortion community who have no trouble calling her (or anyone else’s) bluff—those who do not realize that Kissling’s musings are all for show.
To these critics of Kissling, any limitation—and I do mean ANY limitation—on the unfettered right of any woman to abort any child for any reason and at stage on pregnancy is a betrayal. We agree with them in one sense: it is the same child, at the moment of conception, or at 31 weeks.
We differ on what follows from that. We believe all these little ones should be protected. They believe that their…demise…. is not a matter of concern to “outsiders.” whether the baby is hours old or hours away from delivery. To do so is to challenge their “autonomy” and to cast doubt on their decision-making.
You can read Kissling’s piece at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/18/AR2011021802434_2.html so let me make several overview comments.
Kissling begins by contrasting our Movement’s “increasingly sophisticated use of arguments”– and the strategy of making incremental change—with that of her sisters in the pro-choice movement who have not budged, putting all that they have won in jeopardy. That failure to adjust, she suggests, begins with an unwillingness to accept that “The ‘pro-choice’ brand has eroded considerably.” (She is alluding to the public’s increasing self-identification as “pro-life.”)
“Pro-choice advocates have good reason to oppose legislation that restricts abortion in any way, but unfortunately we’re not going to regain the ground we have lost,” she writes. “What we must do is stop holding on to a strategy that isn’t working, and one that is making the legal right to abortion more vulnerable than ever before.”
In a nutshell, pro-abortionists cannot march under the same mindless “women’s choice” banner when we—all of us—know so much more than we did before. She doesn’t use this example, but only the fringe of the fringe is comfortable talking about “blobs of tissue.” But is she remotely sincere? Let’s see.
To me it is clear that the bulk of her analysis is an attempt to square the circle: Acknowledge that the older the baby gets, the more problematic it is to trot out decades-old clichés and the more difficult it is to fend off calls for what we would describe as reform—yet in reality give away nothing.
So there are lots of fine words and sentiments about needing to accept “the existence and value” of the more-visible-than-ever “fetus.” But while she would have you believe that out of a sense of prudence she is open to limitations on abortion later in pregnancy, in truth her carefully chosen words are weighed down with so many weasel words and qualifications and extenuating circumstances that the exceptions swallow up the rule.
So why go through the exercise? At some level, I’m sure (as her “thoughtfully pro-choice” admirers insisted to me) that she believes she has a new-found respect for the “fetus.”
But I think a more accurate assessment is that it’s all smoke and mirrors, or, better put, winks and nods. If they don’t move, Kissling argues in her concluding paragraph, the consequence could be “far more draconian policies–and, eventually, no choices at all.”
But (as we know from dealing with pro-abortionists for decades) “moving” doesn’t mean moving substantively. When Kissling insists that this is NOT about “compromising or finding common ground with abortion opponents,” I, for one, believe her.
Rather it is (as she writes) that the ground that pro-choice advocates are currently standing on is shifting beneath them. If pro-abortionists don’t offer a rhetorical nod here and a meaningless gesture there (my characterization, obviously), then they really could be in trouble.
My point is a simple one: these are dark days for pro-abortionists. But like pro-abortion President Barack Obama, while pretending to find a way, they have no intention of giving an inch.
Like Obama, they believe if they fake it long enough, the mainstream media may actually buy into the myth that they care a twit about any unborn child who is not planned and perfect. You and I know better.