The Unborn Paradox, by Ross Douthat, New York Times:
The American entertainment industry has never been comfortable with the act of abortion. .... Reality TV thrives on shocking scenes and subjects ...but abortion remains a little too controversial, and a little bit too real.
This omission is often cited as a victory for the pro-life movement, and in some cases that’s plainly true. (Recent unplanned-pregnancy movies like “Juno” and “Knocked Up” made abortion seem not only unnecessary but repellent.) But it can also be a form of cultural denial: a way of reassuring the public that abortion in America is — in Bill Clinton’s famous phrase — safe and legal, but also rare.
I have to take a bit of umbrage as his assertion that movies "made abortion seem not only unnecessary but repellent." That's like claiming that "The Perfect Storm" made the Atlantic Ocean seem not only vast but wet. But I'll move on to what I find refreshing -- Douthat's courage in addressing the "safe, legal, and rare" mantra.
Rare it isn’t: not when one in five pregnancies ends at the abortion clinic.
And even less so when you consider that half of all abortions are repeat abortions, performed on women who have had one, two, three, four, five or more previous abortions.
MTV being MTV, the special’s attitude was resolutely pro-choice. But it was a heartbreaking spectacle, whatever your perspective. .... Their televised agony was a case study in how abortion can simultaneously seem like a moral wrong and the only possible solution — because it promised to keep them out of poverty, and to let them give their first daughter opportunities they never had.
And there I'll agree with his use of the word "seem". Abortion does often seem like "the only possible solution." The thing is, it isn't. Prolife pregnancy centers offer alternatives -- alternative solutions that the abortion lobby fights tooth and nail to keep their despairing customers from every finding out about.
Douthat then moves into the reality of what abortion (albeit in concert with a social acceptance of unwed motherhood) has done: reduced opportunities for loving families to adopt.
Since 1973, countless lives that might have been welcomed into families ... have been cut short in utero instead.
On the MTV special, the people around Durham swaddle abortion in euphemism. The being inside her is just “pregnancy tissue.” After the abortion, she recalls being warned not to humanize it: “If you think of it like [a person], you’re going to make yourself depressed.” Instead, “think of it as what it is: nothing but a little ball of cells.”
It’s left to Durham herself to cut through the evasion. Sitting with her boyfriend afterward, she begins to cry when he calls the embryo a “thing.” Gesturing to their infant daughter, she says, “A ‘thing’ can turn out like that. That’s what I remember ... ‘Nothing but a bunch of cells’ can be her.”
How is depriving this young woman of her second child, and depriving her first child of a sibling, any sort of victory? Wouldn't helping her to overcome her problems have been a real victory?
But helping women address their real problems takes work. Work that the volunteers at pregnancy centers are willing to do, but that abortion apologists not only refuse to do themselves, but can't stand seeing anybody else do.
Douthat moves to consider wanted pregnancies -- pregnancies initiated at great expense, with massive medical intervention. The unborn child is, after all, a life:
When we want to know this, we know this. .... This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.