Defending the Procedure
Guess what this is about: Ruth Marcus, a pundit for the Washington Post, uses the abstract word procedure eleven times in a single column. She doesnt use the word kill even once!
If you guessed that she is writing about abortion, you are correct. More specifically, shes defending gruesome late-term abortions against a recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.
No good progressive-minded liberal feminist would refer to a procedure in which the childs skull is crushed and its brains sucked out as killing. Its not as if someone winds up dead, is it?
The liberal conscience must rank among the wonders of the modern world. How do you defend a procedure so hideous that even most abortionists refuse to perform it? Ms. Marcus doesnt defend it directly. Instead, she heaps angry sarcasm on Justice Anthony Kennedys recent majority opinion in
With cutting wit, she refers to Kennedy as a poor dear, adding, And I thought women were the ones who were supposed to be bad at science.... Indeed, Kennedy seems to be as weak at math as he is at science. Oof! Take that, Kennedy!
Actually, Ms. Marcus doesnt show that Kennedy is weak at either math or science, nor does she explain how she would know (or why it would be relevant) if he were; she just keeps piling on the catty wisecracks, proving only that she is irritable and, more important, morally callous. As for qualms about the deadly practice in question, Ms. Marcus dismisses these as the moral whims of the majority.
Moral whims? Most people would be sickened if they witnessed what Ms. Marcus is pleased to call this procedure. Killing, with its suggestion of blood and pain, sounds so abrupt. Thats why abortion advocates always try to muffle the plain facts in Orwellian euphemisms about terminating pregnancies. You dont want to watch. And they dont want you to see, even in your minds eye.
When you listen to liberals discussing abortion, you wonder how on earth they ever managed to get the public to confuse liberalism with compassion. I suppose its a sort of trick, like the stage magicians misdirection. They keep you watching one thing so you dont notice the other.
Stereotypes help, of course. In the case of abortion, the trick is to keep our minds on poor black inner-city girls, unmarried and pregnant, while diverting our attention from the real subject: the poor little shavers who, ineligible for liberal pity, are to be destroyed by the, er, procedure.
This has the added advantage of appealing, ever so subtly, to the sort of race and class prejudices liberals profess to deplore. Do we really want to encourage those people to breed? This angle emerges when we hear the cost/benefit argument for state-subsidized abortion: Its cheaper than welfare!
From this point of view, a quick, timely, low-cost abortion today saves the taxpayer thousands of welfare dollars over the next two decades. Calculation, as well as compassion, argues for encouraging the poor to abort their children and for having the state pick up the tab for the, er, procedure.
I have never, ever heard of poor inner-city blacks demanding subsidized abortions for themselves. So I can only wonder why so many affluent suburban whites, including liberals, are so eager to provide them. I suppose humanitarianism may explain it. In the case of Ms. Marcus, compassion seems to have run amok.
According to Jean-Paul Sartre, hell is other people; and I suspect that many of us secretly agree with this candidly misanthropic credo. (Thats what I like about the French: they dont bother to hide their feelings, not even their nasty ones.)
Abortion is one way of controlling all those other people, who tend to reproduce with such annoying fertility; and I guess it takes a compassionate American like Ms. Marcus to say she favors aborting children for their own good.
We speak freely of killing some things, such as crabgrass, cancerous cells, and the germs that cause bad breath; but when we do away with kids in their mothers wombs, its just a procedure.
In this age of candor and explicitness, why such anomalous delicacy? Maybe it deserves a special name. I wonder what Adolf Hitler would call it. Abortion denial?
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