Abortion

Kevin Williamson was hired by The Atlantic to provide conservative commentary. He was fired a few days later when an old tweet and podcast revealed he thought women should be hanged for getting an abortion. Now Williamson has written an opinion piece in the Washington Post ‘clarifying’ his stance on abortion. Let’s have a look.

He diminishes his recommendation of capital punishment for women who get abortions by saying the Atlantic fired him:

over a four-year-old, six-word tweet and accompanying podcast in which I was alleged to have voiced an extremist view on the matter of criminalizing abortion — that it should be punished by hanging.

What difference does it make how long ago or how short the tweet was? Does he deny he said it? No. He claims he is alleged to have voiced an extremist view. But he is recorded saying it. How is that alleged? Own up to it.

Now let’s get to the meat of his argument. He starts off by claiming :

As a libertarian, I fully accept the motto that what a woman chooses to do with her own body is her business. As someone who can count, I believe that abortion involves two bodies. 

Motto? That is an odd choice of word. And is a clump of cells a body? If it is, then isn’t a sperm. If so, then should we hang men for masturbating? What of eggs? They are disposed of monthly. If you argue that a ‘body’ is created at conception then why does God spontaneously abort 20% of pregnancies? And that number may be far higher as women can suffer an early miscarriage without being aware they were pregnant — writing the event off as a heavy period.

Williamson then deflects the idea that abortion restrictions are dystopian ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ style misogyny by looking to the rules in France

Abortion on demand is permitted only through the 12th week of pregnancy. After that, abortion is severely restricted, permitted only to prevent grave damage to the mother’s health, or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities. France is not a neo-medieval right-wing dystopia.

If Williamson is promoting the French model then he, de facto, accepts that abortion is a right — even if restricted. The idea of a time limit already exists in American law. In Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court established ‘viabilty’ — then 24 weeks — as the limit for abortions on demand. If modern medicine has lowered the age of viability, then let’s take a look at that limit. With that in mind consider that 89% of abortions in the US occur before 12 weeks and 98.7% before 20 weeks. And I assume of the remaining 1.3% some occur because the mother’s health is threatened.

Williamson then gets cooly hysterical:

Abortion is an absolute evil, but abortion opponents need not fall into the trap of political absolutism.

Evil has no legal definition. And asking a zealot for nuance is like looking for reason in a rabid dog.

Williamson then promotes the standard abortion ban pap.

The gradual legal prohibition of abortion, even if it were enforced with relatively mild penalties, would close the clinics and separate the medical profession from the abortion business. That alone may very well get us 95 percent of what we want.

Banning abortion does not prevent abortions — just legal abortions. A study by the Guttmacher Institute estimates that 829,000 illegal abortions were performed in the US in 1968. Even in the supposed straight-laced 1950s women had hundreds of thousands of illegal abortions.

Williamson offers some solutions

Easier access to nonabortive contraception, better adoption procedures and improved access to care for vulnerable young mothers probably would do some good. So would a change in the social attitude that treats pregnancy as though it were a disease.

Nonabortive contraception? In Williamson’s world, you can prevent the union of a sperm and an egg, but should they combine it is ‘absolute evil’ to stop them implanting. And who treats pregnancy as a disease?

Finally, Williamson acknowledges that there is no mechanism to ban abortion on a federal level.

Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned tomorrow, there is no obviously national aspect to abortion, so we will confront 50 fights in 50 legislatures representing 50 different political realities. It does not seem likely the people of New Jersey and the people of Utah will come to the same settlement but abortion opponents should not replicate their rivals’ error by attempting to subvert the political process. It will be a long and frustrating process, and much evil will be done before it is complete. But that is the work before the pro-life movement, and there’s no avoiding it.

His claim that pro-choice forces have subverted the political process is blatant propaganda. Since Roe, there has been no political expansion of abortion rights. They only subversion of the political process has been by anti-abortionists insinuating themselves into the doctor-patient relationship and small-government types larding women’s health clinics with excessive regulations to drive them out of business.

Williamson is an excellent writer, but as an anti-abortionist, he is a trite and unoriginal thinker.

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