December 8, 2008

Douthat Compromised

Yesterday Ross Douthat had an absurdist op-ed in the NYT, where he claimed that pro-choice folks are "absolutist" while the generous,  thoughtful and carefully reasoning pro-life people were seeking compromise.

Well, first, what digby said.

But the ball is in the court of the anti-choicers. They refuse to accept the compromise that has been written into law stating that abortions can't be easily obtained after the first trimester and more recently can't be obtained at all after the second. That's a compromise and a very real and serious one. And it's not enough. In fact, nothing will be enough until abortion is outlawed.

And then they will begin the war on condoms in earnest. In fact,
they've already started.
This is a pair of key points. First, Roe v Wade IS a compromise, a compromise between the pregnant woman and the developing fetus.  It's a compromise that reflects the broad public consensus of safe, legal, rare and early.  Second this is not about abortion. It's about reducing women's status, removing their authority over their reproductive lives. Abortion is just the ickiest part of this, so that's where they focus.

The "compromise" Douthat seeks does not reflect the actually difficult social issue of the status of a developing fetus viable some time before birth versus a woman's right to control her own body and her own reproductive decisions.  The "compromise" he is talking about is having the state regulate who is eligible to exert this control.

Barely nubile young women raped by their fathers whose lives would be endangered by the pregnancy qualify.  After that, eligibility should be determined by how the pregnancy happened.  Parental notification to discourage teenagers.  Waiting periods. Mandatory "counseling."  He doesn't mention shunning, but I'm sure it's on his list.  It's this kind of thinking that made (shockingly) Sarah Palin a heroine, because of her daughter's commitment to "abstinence" and the pregnancy that so frequently results.

This isn't  a serious argument.  The column is labored, because he has to dance around the obvious compromise, the one that has always been on the table--improved sex education for teens, and public health measures to ensure broader availability and use of contraception.  

If this were really about abortion, there would be condoms in every pew.


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