Paul Not Dodging Abortion Question; Just Pandering

So Dave Weigel wants us to understand that in telling a New Hampshire interviewer asking about his somewhat weaselly positioning on abortion ban exceptions to go ask the DNC chair if she favored killing a seven-pound baby in the uterus, Rand Paul wasn’t avoiding the question but just performing the anti-choice movement’s preferred jui-jitsu on the subject.

Paul’s script-flip was exactly what the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List PAC had been advising Republicans to do since 2012. On Wednesday afternoon, the PAC put out a statement from President Marjorie Dannenfelser, telling reporters that “Rand was right,” and that “the current abortion debate is centered on a highly reasonable proposal to protect children after 20 weeks, or five months of pregnancy – the point at which they can feel excruciating pain.”

Well, Dave’s right to an extent, but in fact, this is the “script-flip” anti-choicers have been performing way back to the late 1990s, when banning “partial-birth abortion” became its favorite crusade. What Dannenfelser calls “the current abortion debate” is simply her side’s spin on the abortion debate, wherein we should be arguing over a relative handful of late-term abortions.

Now as it happens, I agree the question Paul got was the wrong one, insofar as it reinforces the lamentable tendency of the MSM to think of people who only want to ban 99.5% of abortions as sorta kinda pro-choice.

How’s this for a suggestion: why not let’s ask all politicians the same question: under what circumstances, exactly, would you favor government bans on abortion, instead of leaving that decision up to women and physicians? The focus on late-term abortions and exceptions to bans both obscure that basic question.

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.