Friday, July 13, 2018


What did you think about when you learned that the boy's soccer team in Thailand had been rescued from the cave? At National Review, Mona Charen reveals that she thought about abortion:
Twelve boys and their adult coach trapped in a dank, oxygen-deprived cave in Thailand riveted the world’s attention for two weeks. Why, people ask at times like this, are we so focused on these individuals when half a million Rohingya refugee children are in danger of starving on the Bangladesh border, or when 400,000 Yemeni children are severely undernourished?

The answer is drama. We saw images of these particular boys crouched in that cave. We learned of the long odds against a successful rescue — their debilitated health after so many days without food and water, the sharp rocks, narrow passages, and nearly complete darkness of the cave, and waters that challenged even experienced divers (as the death of a Thai Navy seal underscored). Some of the boys didn’t even know how to swim, far less scuba dive....

Something similar is happening with regard to the way we see unborn babies. When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, ultrasound technology was not in common use. By the end of the 20th century, most pregnant women were having at least one scan.

... try telling the besotted parents who glimpse a smile on a sonogram that it means nothing. That’s the way we’re wired. Ultrasound is like those cameras in the cave. It reveals the humanity of those inside a dark, inaccessible place.
Yes, Mona, and yet despite all those ultrasounds these days, Americans still support abortion rights. Gallup tells us this:
As the U.S. Senate prepares to hold confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the public is strongly opposed to any attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal nationwide. Currently, 64% of Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand, while 28% would like to see it overturned.
Oh, but National Review's Michael New assures us that Americans don't really support Roe -- pay no attention to what they actually tell pollsters:
One key talking point among many abortion-rights groups is that Roe is a decision that enjoys broad public support and should be considered settled. Indeed, a flurry of polls released in recent days by NBC News/Survey Monkey, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Quinnipiac University all purportedly find that over 60 percent of respondents support Roe v. Wade.

These polls are all misleading for several reasons. First, a significant number of Americans are unfamiliar with the Roe v. Wade decision. A Pew Research Center poll taken in 2013 found that only 62 percent of respondents were aware that Roe v. Wade dealt with abortion. Seventeen percent thought Roe v. Wade dealt with some other public-policy issue and 20 percent were unfamiliar with the decision.
Except that the polls cited by New specifically refer to Roe as an abortion decision. NBC:
Thinking about the U.S. Supreme Court, do you want the next justice to be someone who will vote to uphold Roe vs. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion, or vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade?
As you may know, the 1973 Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade established a woman constitutional right to have an abortion. Would you like to see the Supreme Court overturn its Roe v. Wade decision, or not?
In general, do you agree or disagree with the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to an abortion?
And the Gallup poll I quoted above:
Would you like to see the Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision concerning abortion, or not?
But that doesn't matter, New insists, because this is all about nuance.
... it should come as no surprise that since 1973 supporters of legal abortion have tried to make a concerted effort to convince the Supreme Court that Roe v. Wade enjoys very broad public support. However, a closer look at the survey data indicates that is not the case. Incremental pro-life laws, such as limits on late-term abortions, have always been broadly supported.
But if Roe is overturned, it won't be overturned so that states can pass "incremental pro-life laws." It will be overturned so that they can ban abortion outright. (They're already passing what New would consider "incremental" laws, laws that make abortion all but illegal in many states, sometimes with pushback from the courts, sometimes not.)

Oh, but we've been assured that Brett Kavanaugh won't be the fifth vote to overturn Roe anyway -- Charen and New's National Review colleague Andrew McCarthy swears he won't. Yet, oddly, it keeps coming up, as if these folks know something they're not telling us.

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