The Spectacle Blog

Dana Milbank’s Abortion Democracy

By on 1.23.14 | 1:11PM

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank is once again running in slow motion down Pennsylvania Avenue holding the torch of banal conventional wisdom over his head while the Olympics theme plays in the background. His latest column spends several paragraphs mocking the March for Life because it was cold yesterday before arriving at an electrifying thesis: Conservatives are out of touch. Excerpt:

[Dr. James] Dobson did not see the hand of God in Wednesday’s brutal conditions. Yet if there are weather gods, they may have been making a pointed comment about a movement that has become frozen in time.

Year after year, antiabortion faithful assemble for the march, yet their goal is elusive. Gallup found last year that 26 percent thought abortion should be legal in any circumstance, 20 percent said it should be illegal in all cases, and 52 percent thought it should be legal in certain circumstances. In 1975, those numbers were 21, 22 and 54, respectively.

Any pro-lifer would be the first to admit that it is the dignity of human life, not public opinion, that should be driving the abortion debate. But let’s focus on the polls for a second. In fact, let’s assume that Roe v. Wade no longer exists and abortion laws are determined solely by the preferences of the majority of Americans. What would that look like? A ban on third-trimester abortions. A ban on second-trimester abortions. Parental notification laws. Mandatory waiting periods. Mandatory ultrasound laws. Informed consent laws. Gallup didn’t start more extensive abortion polling until 1996, so we don’t know how public opinion has shifted on those issues since the 1970s. But we do know that there is far more passion surrounding the abortion issue today than in 1975. And we also know that support for abortion has declined significantly since the 1980s and early 1990s, as the pro-life movement forced abortion back into the news and the procedure's horrors became more evident.

It’s not pro-lifers who are stuck in the past. It’s the pro-choice lobby, clinging to an abortion-on-demand consensus that doesn’t exist and likely never did. We couldn’t implement a single item on the plebiscitarian list above without Milbank launching into hysterical clichés about how conservatives hate women’s rights. Speaking of which, here's Milbank again:

But long before they make abortion illegal, Republicans will make themselves irrelevant, by choosing abortion bills over jobs bills and by validating Democratic claims of a GOP “war on wom…

My brain just froze, and I don’t think it’s from the cold weather.

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