I hope that the pro-abortion movement follows Beth Matusoff Merfish’s advice in this column appearing in The New York Times — because doing so will cement the declining fortunes of the pro-abortion crowd.
Merfish writes about the shame and secrecy that surround abortion, even among the most ardent abortion apologists. She recounts that her own mother, Sherry, had an abortion in 1972, but waited until Merfish was about to enter college before telling her. Merfish also recounts that some of her mother’s friends had similar experiences:
Recently, I heard my mother reveal her experience to four friends who are devoted to protecting women’s right to choose. Strikingly, two of them revealed that they had had an abortion, and the other two had close friends who’d had an abortion. None had told my mother before.
What the movement for reproductive rights needs is for the faces of freedom to emerge from the captivity of shame. To my mother’s generation, I ask: Speak openly about the choices you have made. To all women: ask your mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters and partners about their reproductive histories. Show that abortion has myriad faces: those of women we love, respect and cherish. You have the power to cement in the minds of your communities and families the importance of reproductive freedom. You have made decisions that are private, even anguishing, but the weight of this political moment demands that you shed light on those decisions.
The opposition is frightening, as more states try to restrict abortion, but there is tremendous power and safety in numbers. You are part of a society of women who have been incredibly courageous; I ask humbly for yet another show of that bravery.
The thesis here aligns with Planned Parenthood’s infamous “I Had an Abortion” t-shirts: The tendency to treat abortion like an appendectomy. A painful decision, perhaps, but with little more moral significance that removing a tumor.
The trouble for pro-abortion advocates, though, is that their political fortunes are declining because they treat abortion so cavalierly, not because they don’t do so enough.
Roughly equal numbers of Americans believe that abortion either be illegal in all circumstances (20 percent) or legal under any circumstances (26 percent). A large middle swath believes that abortion should be legal in limited circumstances (52 percent). This last figure truly represents the political center on this issue. (Gallup data here.)
A large percentage of these individuals, however, believe abortion to be morally wrong, even if they oppose laws to restrict it. To mount a campaign to make light of abortion — the precise result of what Merfish advocates, whether she intends it or not — will further alienate many of these individuals.
Merfish wants her allies to "emerge from the captivity of shame," but perhaps the shame of abortion is there for a reason. The destruction of innocent human life is a shameful act. There is no way around it. For all but the most calloused souls, we grieve over abortion, even if we believe (wrongly) that laws should not protect the unborn. To endeavor to remove the moral element from abortion will not win pro-abortionists any points with the American public.
For that reason, I hope they continue on this path.
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