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 Defending the “Procedure” 

April 26, 2007 
paragraph indentGuess what this is about: Ruth Marcus, a pundit for the Washington Post, uses the abstract word procedure eleven times in a single column. She doesn’t use the word kill Today's column is "Defending the 'Procedure'" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.even once!

paragraph indentIf you guessed that she is writing about abortion, you are correct. More specifically, she’s defending gruesome late-term abortions against a recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.

paragraph indentNo good progressive-minded liberal feminist would refer to a “procedure” in which the child’s skull is crushed and its brains sucked out as “killing.” It’s not as if someone winds up dead, is it?

paragraph indentThe 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 doesn’t defend it directly. Instead, she heaps angry sarcasm on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s recent majority opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart upholding state laws that outlaw this grim “procedure.”

paragraph indentWith 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!

paragraph indentActually, Ms. Marcus doesn’t 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.”

indent“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. That’s why abortion advocates always try to muffle the plain facts in Orwellian euphemisms about “terminating pregnancies.” You don’t want to watch. And they don’t want you to see, even in your mind’s eye.

paragraph indentWhen 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 it’s a sort of trick, like the stage magician’s misdirection. They keep you watching one thing so you don’t notice the other.

[Breaker quote for 'Defending the "Procedure": What would Hitler call it?']paragraph indentStereotypes 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.

paragraph indentThis 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: It’s cheaper than welfare!

paragraph indentFrom 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.

paragraph indentI 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.

paragraph indentAccording to Jean-Paul Sartre, hell is other people; and I suspect that many of us secretly agree with this candidly misanthropic credo. (That’s what I like about the French: they don’t bother to hide their feelings, not even their nasty ones.)

paragraph indentAbortion 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.

paragraph indentWe 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, it’s just a “procedure.”

paragraph indentIn 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”?

Joseph Sobran

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