Surprise, surprise, the New York Times is able to produce media that is not overly critical of conservatives from time to time. Even more of a surprise than a fair New York Times piece, is the fact that the piece was about abortion, of all things. Liberal media outlets like the Times are not known for their even-handedness when it comes to issues that the Left describes as “social” issues.
Into that vacuum of fairness steps David Leonhardt to explain why neither party is “fringe” on the abortion issue.
This being the Times, he does have to start by getting a dig in at the Republican Party, by stating they are out of the mainstream on immigration, taxation, gun control and gay marriage. I would argue with him about three of the four, but I get his point. Depending on the polling at which you are looking, the Republican Party can (at times) be found to be in the minority on these issues.
Leonhardt says that abortion is different, though.
The majority of Americans (about 60%) believe that women should have access to abortion if they choose so in the first trimester. However, 70% of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in the second trimester (after 12 weeks). Roughly 80% of Americans believe that abortion is taking a life, and about half of Americans (48%) would ban abortion after 20 weeks, in a similar way to the recently passed Texas ban.
Leonhardt argues that the best “weapon” for abortion rights activists is to use their opponents “extremism” against them. Because bills like the one in Texas do not provide exception for rape or incest, most Americans would see the law as “extreme.”
On the individual rights issues, Leonhardt also sees both sides as having valid arguments – the pro-abortion side argues for the rights of the woman, while the pro-life side argues for the rights of the child.
“Those dueling claims probably mean that the debate over abortion is here to stay. As Mr. Kohut notes, polls show that young people — despite their general liberalism — are divided, much as their parents and grandparents have been… Most Americans are uncomfortable with abortion yet believe there are circumstances — and not just a narrow few — when it should be legal. They believe that women should have control over their bodies and also that an abortion is akin to a death. Where they struggle is in deciding when each principle deserves to take priority.”
Amazed as I am by Mr. Leonhardt’s fairness to the pro-life movement (Joe Scarborough was surprised too) in this article, I am still frustrated to see that he does not seem to grasp the reason for our side’s obvious “extremism.” It is an aspect of the fight that goes largely unnoticed by the Left, perhaps because they don’t like that part of the argument.
We are not extreme because we enjoy staking out hard positions and making ourselves out to be foolish. We are not extreme because we hate, or because we believe that women should not have authority or dominion over their own bodies. We must be extreme because we believe we are witnessing a holocaust unlike any humanity has ever seen. We hold no malice toward those who disagree, but ask they would try to view it from our vantage point. It’s as though we have been given a front row seat to a serial killer at work, and we are powerless to stop him. The only weapon in our arsenal is our voice. And so we shout — loudly, perhaps sometimes shrilly — in an attempt to stop the killer at his work.
Viewed in that light, are we really being extreme?