Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Among the Abortion Extremists

I don't know if Ross Douthat is the very best newspaper columnist out there. He seems like a quirky weird kind of guy, actually. But this is very good.


A few weeks ago, The Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor, Ruth Marcus, wrote two columns explaining why, had either of her children been diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero, she would have accepted the “ghastly” nature of a second-trimester abortion and terminated the pregnancy. She conceded that people with Down syndrome can be happy and fulfilled, that both they and their parents might be understandably disturbed by the way abortion can effectively cull them from the world. But she concluded with self-acknowledged bluntness: “That was not the child I wanted.”

I know Marcus a little, having chatted with her amiably a few times many years ago. She seemed like a lovely person, like so many of my pro-choice friends; indeed, people who believe firmly in an absolute or near-absolute right to an abortion are effectively my people in a certain tribal way, given that I’m a Connecticut Yankee raised by Bill Clinton-voting boomers and educated in the modern meritocracy. I like these folks; I think they mean well; I try to listen to their arguments with the respect that the sincere and intelligent deserve.

But I also think that they are deceived by a cruel ideology that has licensed the killing of millions of innocents for almost 50 years. In the language that the respectable use to banish views without rebuttal, I regard them — friends and colleagues and faithful readers — as essentially extremists, for whom the distinctive and sometimes awful burdens that pregnancy imposes on women have become an excuse to build a grotesque legal regime in which the most vulnerable human beings can be vacuumed out or dismembered, killed for reasons of eugenics or convenience or any reason at all.

I am sharing these reflections in the context of the latest media war over whether a particular conservative columnist should be hired by a particular establishment publication — in this case Kevin Williamson, a National Review scribe with a brilliant pen and a long paper trail of insults and wild opinions, who was boldly hired by The Atlantic and then quickly jettisoned, after it came to light that he had not only suggested hanging as a penalty for abortion in a since-deleted tweet but also more carefully defended the idea of someday prosecuting women who obtain abortions the way we prosecute other forms of homicide...
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