Tone Down the Rhetoric—On Both Sides


2017-01-30 – I just saw a post on Twitter that was so ridiculous that I have to write about it. Here is part of it:

“It’s the saddest thing in the world to watch thousands of women march for the right to kill their own children.”

I’m not even going to get into whether abortion kills a child. I can respect people’s belief that it does. I’m not sure about this myself.

No woman wants an unplanned pregnancy. (If she wants it, it’s planned, by definition.) If a woman gets pregnant by intention, she’s most likely going to carry the pregnancy to term. Aborting the pregnancy or killing the child or whatever you want to call it is the furthest thing from her mind. No one is marching for this.

What we’re talking about in the abortion debate is a distressed pregnancy. Either there was an unintended conception or something happened during the pregnancy to threaten the life or well-being of the mother or the fetus. No one wants any of this.

Pro-lifers who go around saying that people want this are just riling the crowd. What this tweet said is just not true. The pro-choice demonstrators aren’t looking to kill babies. They are looking for ways to respond to a distressed pregnancy, for whatever reason it occurs.

It’s time for people to turn down the temperature. Not that they are going to listen to me. They often act as if riling the crowd is more important to them than reducing the number of abortions.

Now, I just happened to see this tweet today. And people in the pro-life movement are now in ascendancy. I’m sure they think their overwrought rhetoric is showing some success. Maybe that’s right.

But I’d also like to point out some excessive rhetoric on the pro-choice side. I don’t have a quote for this one and I’m not going to go looking for it. That’s the way alternative facts are created. There’s always something out there to cherry pick.

But here’s an argument that I’m sure you’ve heard a lot. “Pro-lifers are out to control women’s bodies.”

I have no doubt that some pro-lifers would like to do this. But I am willing to give credit to a large segment of folks who are perfectly fine to promote women’s right but are simultaneously opposed to ending the life of a fetus, who they say is as much a person as the mother and deserving of protection. Those two opinions can exist in a person at the same time. You might say they are contradictory, but they are not. Except in some stretch of logic similar to the stretch taken by our pro-life tweeter.

So, not all pro-lifers are out to control women’s bodies.

I am not writing to solve the abortion debate today. I am writing to talk about the way we debate.

There is a strategy that should be altogether too familiar to you. That is the strategy of extreme claims.

Public opinion polls have indicated for years that there is fairly broad majority agreement in this country over abortion. You’d never guess this because of the shrill tactics of the partisans. Neither extreme wants to go with the majority. (And I don’t me a majority in the Electoral College. I mean a 70-ish% majority of real people.)

Could everyone shut up for a minute! It’s really hard to listen to each other.


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