Lionel Shriver has written a fascinating piece of projection that attribues to pro-lifers the same power-mad motivations that drive abortion proponents on the left.

"In the history of the world, the true test of a civilisation is how well people treat the most vulnerable and most helpless in their society," the governor of South Dakota opined on Monday. "The sponsors and supporters of this bill believe that abortion is wrong because unborn children are the most vulnerable and most helpless persons in our society."

Lofty rhetoric. But I have studied the eyes of the fanatics who regularly picket abortion clinics in the US and I do not see love of tiny unborn babies. I see hatred.

If there's hatred, is hatred for baby-killers entirely unjustified?

What is really going on here is the same culture war that has been raging in America since I was a kid - the same stand-off between the strait-laced, self-righteous toe-the-line types who wear hats to church, and the grubby, licentious long-hairs brandishing peace signs with whom I grew up. Both factions are still shouting at each other across the cultural divide, and these poor foetuses are just weapons flung like ripe tomatoes. The abortion issue in the US is not about babies. It's about control, about power, about who can tell whom what to do, about who despises whom and their disgusting lifestyle. In short, it's about grown-ups.

Only the pro-abortion crowd sees the issue as being about power and control, and that's always how they phrase their arguments. "Keep your laws off my body" and so forth is about who controls what. However, those on the pro-life side don't want to prevent abortion out of some desire to control women. It's true that many cultures do want to subjugate women, as is seen in the Arab and Muslim worlds, but the American right has no such intention. Many or most of the strongest pro-life proponents are women! If Mr. Shriver sees abortion as a battle over control, then he's merely projecting his own motivations onto his opponents. As hard as it may be for him to believe, we actually do want to save innocent lives.

The term "pro-life" could not be less apt. (Enjoy the irony that many a "pro-lifer" also supports capital punishment.)

Yes yes, and many a "pro-choicer" supports restricting the choice to own guns, etc. It should be pretty obvious to anyone involved in the abortion debate that the meaning of the labels should be kept in context.

Only the abortion rights movement has a genuinely positive agenda, the protection of a woman's right to make her own decision about an admittedly thorny moral issue whose implications are intimate. The emotional force driving pro-lifers is profoundly negative; alas, it is our negative emotions that usually pack the most punch. The anti-abortion movement is fired up with loathing - for permissive, Godless lefties who don't even get nervous when threatened with eternal damnation since they don't believe in it (which must be terribly frustrating).

How are pro-lifers' profoundly negative for wanting to protect what we believe to be innocent babies? That just doesn't make any sense. The implications of abortion are certainly intimate for the mother, but even more intimate for the baby who will be murdered. The crux of the issue is the question of whether or not the unborn child is a baby or "just a fetus". If we can reach agreement about that, even many who don't believe in eternal damnation will agree that murdering babies is wrong. It's clear that at least one side is full of loathing, but it's rarely the pro-lifers who spew the hateful vitriol.



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