Clearing Up Untruths About Abortion

This Sunday’s New York Times published an op-ed by Ross Douthat of the Atlantic, in which he spent over 1,100 words perpetuating untruths and myths about the anti-choice movement in an apparent effort to absolve them of any blame for John McCain’s loss.

For example, Mr. Douthat believes that “[c]ompromise, rather than absolutism, has been the watchword of anti-abortion efforts for some time now. Since the early 1990s, advocates have focused on pushing largely modest state-level restrictions, from parental notification laws to waiting periods to bans on what we see as the grisliest forms of abortion.”

Perhaps Mr. Douthat should check out our blog, where we have written about the most recent extremist anti-choice efforts that appeared on ballots across the country, such as an outright abortion ban in South Dakota and Colorado’s attempts to personify embryos from the moment of conception. Mr. Douthat should also take note that President Bush’s first act in office was to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, which has harmed hundreds of thousands of women worldwide. And let’s not forget the HHS’s most recent anti-abortion Provider Conscience Clause we wrote about here.

Mr. Douthat also argues that violent protests that once characterized entrances to clinics nationwide are a thing of the past. Wrong again. Clinic violence and clinic blockades are alive and well. Sure, crisis pregnancy centers have, indeed, sprung up around the country, but this is not good news for women’s health, as they more often than not spread misinformation about reproductive health.

Finally, after many paragraphs of misinformation and half-truths, Mr. Douthat gets to his point: he wants Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey overruled.

“These decisions are monuments to pro-choice absolutism, and for pro-lifers to accept them means accepting that no serious legal restrictions on abortion will ever be possible — no matter what the polls say, and no matter how many hearts and minds pro-lifers change.”

Pro-choice absolutism? Perhaps we should send him a copy of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act that requires a 24-hour waiting period and parental consent. Or a copy of the Hyde Amendment, which excludes abortion from services provided to low-income women?

Make no mistake: reproductive rights have been under siege for the past eight years, and the women’s rights community must work hard to try and undo this damage. Mr. Douthat’s dangerous op-ed is a glaring example of how much work needs to be done.

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One Response to Clearing Up Untruths About Abortion

  1. Aaron says:

    If you take Douthat’s argument at face value, it’s pretty thin. But it’s hard to take at face value, given how much attention he pays to the issue of abortion and his own pro-life views. The entire essay seems, to put it mildly, insincere.

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