As we approach the one year anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade with the landmark Dobbs decision, it’s interesting to note how political commentators have approached the issue in the post-Roe landscape. Comments from opposite sides of the political aisle this week have been raising eyebrows and are worth focusing on.
The first comes in the form of a Tweet from Conservative speaker and Columnist Ann Coulter. Known for her direct and sometimes offputting remarks, Coulter had this to say on Twitter to pro-life advocates in the wake of election results in Wisconsin:
The demand for anti-abortion legislation just cost Republicans another crucial race.
Pro-lifers: WE WON. Abortion is not a “constitutional right” anymore! Please stop pushing strict limits on abortion, or there will be no Republicans left.
We’ll come back to Coulter’s comments in a moment, but for the time being, it’s also worth noting a comment from one of Ann’s political opposites, Bill Maher.
In a clip from an episode of his TV show, Maher, who is well known for his support of Left-leaning politics, made an interesting remark about pro-life advocates. Responding to the notion that the pro-life movement is rooted in hatred of women, Maher had this to say,
“Like, pro-life people don’t hate women. That’s another one. ‘They hate women’. They don’t hate women. They think it’s murder. And it kind of is. I’m just okay with it. I’m totally okay with that kind of murder.”
Bill’s up front honesty here is worth noting. He isn’t playing word games like most pro-choice activists do, resorting to smug soundbites and personal attacks against pro-life advocates. Instead, he declares straight out that he believes abortion is murder. His intellectual honesty is commendable, and raises a question for Conservative activists like Ann Coulter: If abortion is “murder”, as Maher claims it is, wouldn’t it make sense to say the government has a moral obligation to enact prohibitions against it?
The purpose of government is to protect human beings from being unjustly harmed or killed by other human beings. Everyone with a functioning moral compass agrees that the government has a responsibility to provide laws and agents to enforce laws against moral crimes such as murder. No sane person wants to live in a world where they can be killed on a whim by someone else. Everyone, Conservative, Liberal, or Libertarian agrees that there should be at least limits on human behavior when it comes to deliberately killing innocent people(ie, “murder”).
Pro-lifers(a title Ann is claiming for herself) oppose abortion because it is the direct, intentional killing of an innocent human being, not because it was wrongly decided to be a “Constitutional Right” through faulty legal reasoning which was corrected in Dobbs. If abortion is the unjust killing of innocent human beings, it makes perfect sense for the restricting of this killing to be a political priority for those who recognize the wrongdoing.
To put it another way, let’s suppose Ann gets her way politically. We eliminate illegal immigration in the United States overnight. We get a thriving economy, the country isn’t dragged into unnecessary and costly foreign wars, we balance the budget and reduce the deficit, and American patriotism is at an all time high. Essentially, Conservatives win political victories all across the board.
However, people are given the legal ability to kill their toddlers with impunity; and several hundred thousand toddlers are killed nationwide per year. Furthermore, this legalized child killing was allowed to be enshrined as a legal right by Republicans who refused to pursue legislation aimed at prohibiting the practice so they could achieve political victories on all other matters.
Even if such an American Utopia of Conservatism were achieved, it would be far from a just society if an entire class of innocent human beings has no protection from being intentionally killed to suit the desires of adults. This would not be a Conservative victory. It would be an abomination.
And yet, this is the same sort of thing Ann is proposing. Republicans must ignore efforts to restrict legalized child killing via abortion now that Roe is out of the way, and move on to other things, otherwise they will never win political office ever again.
Pro-life legislators are facing challenges largely because pro-abortion activists have succeeded in scaring a large segment of the population into believing that lack of access to abortion is tantamount to mass murder of women. They never provide evidence for their claims beyond a few anecdotes(which are questionable at best) and the fears of thousands of women dying from lack of access to abortion is quickly resolved if one takes the time to actually read the laws they are concerned about.
Pro-lifers, especially in positions of political influence, need to do a better job of making critics provide evidence for their claims instead of letting them get away with scaring vast numbers of people into supporting something they don’t fully understand. Ann is simply out of touch with the reality pro-lifers are facing in the post-Roe landscape.
Now, back to Bill Maher. If I had been sitting with Maher, I would have asked the following question: “Bill, in your mind, what is it about abortion that makes it murder, and why do you think it is still okay?”
Chances are Bill is assuming there is some difference between the born and unborn that makes killing the unborn(again, an action he calls “murder”) morally acceptable. However, if any person believes there are human beings we can kill if we want to, and other human beings we cannot, they bear an immense burden to justify their belief.
However, suppose Maher bites the bullet, and says that there are no differences, but we still shouldn’t restrict people’s ability to get abortions. This is an increasingly common trope pro-lifers are hearing, and many are often dumbfounded by the blunt admission.
Paraphrasing their remarks into a question will be helpful here:
“Let me see if I’m understanding you correctly, and feel free to tell me where I get this wrong. Are you saying you are perfectly fine with intentionally killing innocent human beings, murder, as you put it, but stopping people from engaging in this killing is unreasonable to you?”
Chances are, critics aren’t thinking through the implications of their views. Essentially, what they are saying amounts to “Killing other human beings is fine, but don’t you dare restrict their ability to get elective surgery to do so”.
A more honest critic will probably get the hint, albeit maybe not at first. It often takes time for people to think about what was said in a conversation before they are willing to reject their deeply held beliefs.
The post-Roe landscape will continue to shape the course of American politics for years to come. It is essential that pro-life advocates be ready and able to engage the discussion with carefully constructed questions and arguments.