In Tuesday’s New York Times online edition, the paper’s neo-neo-con columnist Ross Douthat laid out a sprawling argument that seemed to conclude that pro-choice activists and the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling were responsible for violence against women’s healthcare providers, including the murder of Dr. George Tiller last week.
“If anything, by enshrining a near-absolute right to abortion in the Constitution, the pro-choice side has ensured that the hard cases are more controversial than they otherwise would be,” wrote Douthat, who argued that
One reason there’s so much fierce argument about the latest of late-term abortions–Should there be a health exemption? A fetal deformity exemption? How broad should those exemptions be? –is that Americans aren’t permitted to debate anything else.
Douthat elaborated on what seemed to be a plan for conciliation: “If abortion were returned to the democratic process, this landscape would change dramatically,” because “arguments about whether and how to restrict abortions in the second trimester–as many advanced democracies already do–would replace protests over the scope of third-trimester medical exemptions.”
It is true that if you take away constitutional protections, people opposed to those protections will be happier. For instance, those rightists who called for jailing reporters who reported secret aspects of the Bush White House’s warrantless wiretapping and black sites programs would probably be happier if the First Amendment were suspended to make such jailing possible. But what about the Constitution? And what about those who lost their protections? One begins to sense that Douthat’s plan for reconciliation would only make one side happier.
It’s also worth noting that, as much as Douthat may think they are all powerful, pro-choice advocates are incapable of making concessions regarding the Constitution. Roe was “enshrined ” by the U.S. Supreme Court, which will also be in charge of future decisions regarding its disposition.
But just when you thought Douthat’s plan might be somewhat was lopsided, he explains how there really is something in it for the pro-choice people:
The result would be laws with more respect for human life, a culture less inflamed by a small number of tragic cases–and a political debate, God willing, unmarred by crimes like George TillerÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s murder.
As Village Voice blogger Roy Edroso summed up the Times columnist’s reconciliation plan, ‘So, see, Douthat gets the end of abortion on demand, and you heathens get killed less often by right-wing nuts; he’s meeting you halfway.ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬Ãƒâ€šÂ
Megan, a blogger at Jezebel.com, put it slightly differently: ‘To sum up: If we just roll over, accept the end of abortion access and let them teach us about respect for human life, they won’t kill any more abortion providers. Good to know whose hands Douthat thinks Tiller’s blood is really on.ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬Ãƒâ€šÂ