Infanticide! Infanticide!

Having just counseled against despair about the emptiness of so much conservative policy offerings and rhetoric, sometimes you really do just need to hoot and point. A fine example is RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ bizarre effort at RedState today to deal with the controversy over the endless cascade of Republican legislators trying to ban virtually all abortions and several birth control measures as well by finding some obscure exchange in Florida involving a Planned Parenthood lobbyist being asked about the law that would govern a botched late-term abortion, and then accusing the entire Democratic Party of favoring infanticide.

Charles Pierce, who is on quite a roll today, captured it all perfectly:

What you have is a bunch of Republican goobers throwing hypotheticals at a Planned Parenthood lobbyist. Does anyone — except Crazy Uncle Doctor Liberty (!) who claims actually to have seen it happen — believe that a doctor would leave a gasping, dying infant alone to expire on the table in front of him? This was a transparent attempt to get the lobbyist to say “right to life” because then we would have hootin’ and hollerin’ and spikin’ the ball in the end zone. They didn’t get it, so they gin up the word “infanticide” and hand it to the Obvious Anagram to promote. Women, of course, are presumed to be too dim and too delicate to see through this obvious charade. Pro tip, Reince — they’re not.

Yeah, we should laugh, but there is a serious point about Republican duplicity in this incident. According to the official ideology of the Republican Party and nearly all of its elected officials these days, all abortion is infanticide, using an IUD is infanticide, using Plan B is infanticide. A not-inconsiderable segment of the GOP base believes “the pill” is infanticide.

So why amidst efforts to halt the American Holocaust do Republicans keep squawking about the tiny, tiny percentage of these acts of “infanticide” that involve late-term abortions? Because they know that outside the antichoice movement and the politicians beholden to it most Americans think their views are a mite crazy. So they constantly, constantly try to change the subject from birth control and early-term abortions to every rare and troubling example of a botched abortion or “partial-birth abortion” they can find. And throughout all this hypocrisy and bad faith and crocodile tears for the late-term fetus, the one consistent point in Republican abortion policy is that there is never a moment in the reproductive process where the women involved are given a say. As Pierce says, all the devious messaging on earth can’t quite disguise that.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.