James Taranto -- one of my favorite thinkers and writers -- has published a long and compelling explanation of how the Gosnell infanticide atrocity could fundamentally shift the public's view on abortion.
Welcome to the mushy middle, Roger. This columnist has been here for quite some time, as you can see from this 1999 piece. But we too, when we were very young, were a "pro-choice" libertarian. We came to question, and ultimately rejected, that position, although fully accepting the "pro-life" side of the argument remains a bridge too far for us. ...
The reductio ad absurdum of the pro-abortion side is Kermit Gosnell. That is why the Gosnell case has crystallized our view that the current regime of abortion on demand in America is a grave evil that ought to be abolished. It is murderous, if not categorically then at least in its extreme manifestations. Maintaining it requires an assault on language and logic that has taken on a totalitarian character. And it is politically poisonous.
He also points to recent testimony by Planned Parenthood which believes that doctors should be allowed to murder "abortion survivors".
The "Roger" that Taranto refers to is Roger Simon, who is also in the midst of re-evaluating his previous support for abortion.
I can give you two guinea pigs to prove this point -- my wife Sheryl and me. We were in the kitchen last night, preparing dinner, when we saw a short report of this story on the countertop TV.
Both lifelong "pro-choice" people, after watching only seconds, we embarked in an immediate discussion of whether it was time to reconsider that view. (Didn't human life really begin at the moment of conception? What other time?) Neither of us was comfortable as a "pro-choice" advocate in the face of these horrifying revelations. How could we be?
Yes, Dr. Gosnell was exceptional (thank God for that!), but a dead fetus was a dead fetus, even if incinerated in some supposedly humane fashion rather than left crying out in blind agony on the operating room floor, as was reportedly the case with one of Gosnell's victims. I say blind because this second-trimester fetus did not yet have fully formed eyes. (Think about that one.)
So I don't think I'm "pro-choice" anymore, but I'm not really "pro-life" either. I would feel like a hypocrite. I don't want to pretend to ideals I have serious doubts I would be able to uphold in a real-world situation. If a woman in my family, or a close friend, were (Heaven forbid) impregnated through rape, I would undoubtedly support her right to abortion. I might even advocate it. I also have no idea how I would react if confronted by having to make a choice between the life of a fetus and his/her mother. Just the thought makes my head spin.
This position isn't difficult to understand. The important fact to grasp from Simon's narrative is that he and his wife now concede the evil of abortion. It's no surprise that he -- like many people -- would find it hard to willingly suffer for this new-found principle. Despite this understandable reluctance, the shift in principle that Simon describes is significant. We can only pray that a similar shift will develop in the larger population.