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McArdle on honest pro-choicers

Posted by Richard on August 12, 2005

I have a bumper sticker that proudly proclaims, "Pro-Choice on Everything," and that includes abortion. But I was disgusted with NARAL’s attempt to smear Judge Roberts as supporting, excusing, or in some way being linked to terrorist clinic bombings because he argued against prosecuting Operation Rescue under the Ku Klux Klan Act. Their Klan-like, terrorist crime? Sitting down, linking arms, and blocking the entrance to a clinic.

I remember when sitting down and blocking an entrance to a building was called a "sit-in," was one of the mainstays of the civil rights movement, and was probably indulged in with pride by some of today’s older members of NARAL.

Megan McArdle, guest-blogging at Instapundit, has been on the other side during some of those Operation Rescue protests, so we pro-choice people ought to pay attention to her (emphasis added):

Similarly, Mark Kleiman’s attempt to excuse NARAL’s ad by calling Operation Rescue a terrorist group is an abuse of the word. Is Operation Rescue attempting to keep women from having abortions by making them feel shame and public humiliation at an extraordinarily vulnerable time? Undoubtedly. Have they attempted to physically block women from entering clinics? Indeed they have. But speaking as one who used to form a human chain in front of clinics to help women through the protesters, I’ve never seen anything from Operation Rescue that even remotely qualifies as terrorism, nor seen anyone physically threaten a woman (shoving a picture of a fetus in her face does not count). There may have been isolated incidents (as, to be honest, there were isolated cases of overzealous young men on our side itching to get busy with the opposition). But instilling fear for a woman’s physical safety–the definition of terrorism–did not seem to me to be one of the organization’s goals, and indeed, at clinics where OR is protesting there are so many police, barricades, and counterprotesters that it would not be a very effective organisation if that were the goal. I disagree with Operation Rescue about nearly everything, but comparing it to the Ku Klux Klan’s campaign of lynching free blacks is grotesque.

Such ads are undoubtedly effective, but each one contributes to a political culture in which scoring one for the team is the only important consideration. Honest pro-choicers who feel that it’s all right because this is important should have a good long think about what kind of country they want to live in.

Sometimes I’m not sure who is more disturbing — the "save every zygote" zealots on the anti-abortion side or the "adopting proves he wants to oppress women" zealots on the abortion-as-sacrament side. Thank you, Megan, for reminding me that there are people on my side of this issue who I’m not embarrassed by.

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