Saturday, August 27, 2011
At NRO the formidable Michael New comments on the reaction of pro-choice bloggers to the recent story in the New York Times discussing the case of women who conceive twins or other multiples through IVF and then opt to “selectively reduce” the pregnancy to a single developing child. New’s remarks are here. The Times story is here. I previously posted on the Times piece here.
As New observes, these otherwise adamant proponents of abortion – including the likes of Frances Kissling, William Saletan, as well as commentators at RH Reality Check and Jezebel – “expressed a considerable amount of unease with women who reduce their [multiple] pregnancies to singletons.”
While New does not deny that these expressions may be sincere on some level, he does suggest that they may be strategic.
I think that something different is at work here. Supporters of legal abortion typically do not argue that they want abortion to be common or widespread. They make the case that it should be a legal option for women facing unique or difficult circumstances. They are also aware of polling data that shows that while majorities of Americans think abortion should be a legal option in cases of rape, serious health risks to the mother, or fetal deformity. However, they are also aware that most Americans disapprove of abortion in cases of economic hardship or a desire to have fewer children.
Now, since abortions are done in private, the rationale for most abortions will remain unclear. But women who choose to bear only singletons are seeking abortions out of convenience in a very visible way. Pro-choice activists realize that if this practice is seen as commonplace, that could weaken support for legal abortion.
Given the sensitive subject matter, the New York Times did its best to put a nonjudgmental spin on this. But the reaction of ardent pro-choice activists is very telling.
Put a bit more cynically, pro-choice advocates feign a kind of understated revulsion at the practice of “selective reduction” where the pregnancy is anything but unintended. This is done, notwithstanding the logic of abortion, which provides no principled basis for such opposition, but so as to appear moderate and reasonable in order to preserve an unbounded right to abort for any reason whatsoever.
The reaction of ardent pro-choice activists is, as Michael New says, “very telling” because, as with partial-birth abortion, “selective reduction” reveals a weakness in the armor of choice. The revulsion that most people feel in response to the procedure is not feigned but genuine. What those who value unborn human life must continue to do is ask the question: “Why? Why do you feel this way? Why do you recoil in horror at this particular choice?” If the question is pressed, and one is honest with oneself, the person who began as troubled only by “selective reduction” may find him or herself questioning the entire abortion regime.