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Can Activists Transform Abortion Into A ‘Positive’ Event?


Abortion has had quite the busy month. First, boxer Floyd Mayweather revealed via Facebook that the “real reason” he and his girlfriend Shantel Jackson broke up was that she aborted their unborn twins, a practice to which Mayweather is opposed: “I’m totally against killing babies,” he wrote. Elsewhere, media outlets picked up en masse on abortion counselor Emily Letts’s “abortion video,” which the woman posted on Youtube because she wanted to, quote, “share my story.”

“I do not feel like a bad person,” she claims after the procedure. “I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life.”

She can also take a life, as well, an ability that inspires decidedly less awe, unless you’re into that sort of thing. Indeed, the abortion story is a kind of literary genre à la mode, with organizations such as the “1 in 3 Campaign” gathering such stories in order to “start a new conversation about abortion” (they sell T-shirts, too. If you’re into that sort of thing.)

Pace Hillary Clinton’s desire to see abortion be “safe, legal and rare,” the fashionable crusade is to now remove the pretense of any limits on abortion whatsoever: rare? Why should it be rare? Writing in the Guardian, Jessica Valenti wants to do away with that whole passé, outmoded “keeping it rare” thing: “Saying as much only reinforces the stigma against the procedure,” she claims.

And we wouldn’t want to do that. In truth, the 1 in 3 campaign, Jessica Valenti’s blasé dismissal of abortion stigmas, and various other abortion promotion outlets are all part of a loosely-confederated yet still single-minded effort to turn abortion into a largely mainstream medical task, “ending the stigma and shame” of the whole thing, as 1 in 3 puts it. This is what the abortion lobby does. Having won a legally bizarre but so-far-ironclad victory in 1973, the champions of abortion-on-demand have directed their efforts at making abortion a so-so, no-big-deal kind of procedure. That is where abortion is inexorably heading: more and more it will be treated as if it’s the most innocuous undertaking in the world, the least-unusual part of your day. “Every time I watch the video,” Letts says of her abortion film, “I love it. I love how positive it is.” Positive, sure, unless you happened to be on the receiving end of Ms. Letts’s “story,” in which case it was probably not so positive.

You can hardly blame abortion’s advocates for attempting to de-stigmatize the act of abortion. A recent CNN poll showed that well over 50% of Americans are largely against abortion and a plurality are completely against it (having been convinced at one time that abortion should be more-or-less legal, I find myself now squarely in the majority and flirting with the plurality). Abortion remains a deeply uncomfortable and repugnant medical act for millions of people who recognize that it is something less than a “positive” experience for one half of the participants. Facing such a large disadvantage, it should hardly be surprising that the abortion lobby is attempting to make it the moral equivalent of getting one’s temperature taken: if you’re having trouble convincing them that abortion is an inalienable right, then try convincing them that abortion is an ethical non-issue.

Hell, if that doesn’t work, try anything. Anti-abortion legislation, Valenti writes, “assumes that women, if not kept in check by the government, are not to be trusted to make good decisions about their bodies and families.” This is comically untrue. Anti-abortion legislation cares not a whit about a woman’s “good decisions,” or even her bad decisions. Pro-life efforts are motivated by nothing more and nothing less than the realization that unborn children are human beings bestowed with the same rights and privileges of all human beings. The issue is not one of trust, or decisions, or whatever other obfuscating platitudes Jessica Valenti can devise: the issue is one of whether or not murder should be legal. At the very least, the two sides of the debate can have an honest discussion if these obvious truths are agreed upon.

But good luck with that. Abortion rates are falling, yet what abortions remain will continue to be treated as either neutral events or grotesque “positive” experiences. Should the winds change, and the abortion rate begins to creep upwards again, we can be assured that the ethical mores that once acted as a check against it will have been severely weakened, if not obliterated altogether.

“I’m totally against killing babies,” Floyd Mayweather says, to which the abortion lobby replies: “Hey, that sounds totally positive!”

Daniel Payne is a senior contributor at The Federalist. He blogs at Trial of the Century. You can follow him on Twitter.