The abortion rights movement has long struggled with
a fundamental problem of cognitive dissonance. Most “pro-choice” people are nice,
well-meaning folks; they certainly don’t view themselves as the sort of people
who would condone violence against helpless human beings. But abortion always
requires the violent destruction and disposal of a human being. How, then, to
support abortion while staying true to humane values? This is the question.
for abortion on demand—and then try to work their way backwards to a
justification. For a long time, the dominant solution was to deny the humanity
of the unborn child and the violence of abortion. “Clump of cells” was the key
phrase. But the denial of scientific facts couldn’t last forever, and as
sonogram images became more and more ubiquitous, pro-abortion leaders struggled
to maintain a hold on public opinion.
large-scale attempt to reinvent themselves. Their new take? Don’t try to
resolve the cognitive dissonance—embrace it!
people by acknowledging that unborn children are alive and that abortion kills
them—without, of course, reconsidering the premise that abortion on demand must
be preserved at all costs. I call this the “abortion is great, as long as we
sort of feel bad about it” movement, or the “batshit crazy” movement for short.
believe that this cognitive dissonance is a sign of intellectual achievement.
They like to think that they grasp the great complexity of abortion, unlike those narrow-minded, plebian
“antis.” (Why settle for just being wrong, when you can also be obnoxious?)
at least as far as Naomi Wolf’s “Our
Bodies, Our Souls” piece in the mid-nineties—but it’s been
resurgent lately. From Planned
of the phrase “pro-choice” (in favor of talking about how
golly, abortion sure is morally complex), to Mary Beth William’s infamous “So
what if abortion ends life?” article in Salon last month, the
batshit crazy movement is getting lots of press.
way to bring middle-of-the-road people into the fold. They’d love to embrace abortion; all this time, they’ve just been
looking for permission to have ambiguous feelings! So the thinking goes.
about abortions—they want to stop abortions. Polling
shows that a majority of Americans—and even a slim majority
of self-described pro-choicers—would like to see a ban on abortion in the
second trimester (a limitation that cannot happen until Roe v. Wade is overturned). In the third trimester, 79% of
self-described pro-choicers join the pro-life side in wanting abortion illegal.
And all the various restrictions proposed short of a ban, such as informed
consent, waiting periods, parental consent for minors, also enjoy majority
support from middle-of-the-road Americans.
All of these limitations are vehemently opposed by the abortion lobby, whatever messaging
of the day they’re using. To those who truly understand the tragedy of
abortion, they can offer nothing more than lip service. That is why the
pro-life movement will continue to win people’s hearts and minds until all
human life, born and preborn, is protected.