Two Faces of the Antichoice Movement

We’ve certainly seen the two faces of the American antichoice movement as reflected in Republican politics this last week. On the one hand you have the “defund Planned Parenthood” movement that’s the product of many years of efforts–capped by the recent “sting” videos of PP–to depict abortion as mainly a late-term phenomenon involving fetal dismemberment and tissue–excuse me, “baby-part”–sales. But at the same time you’ve got Republican pols fighting for antichoice support by stressing that they are for bans of the vast, vast majority of abortions that occur early in pregnancy, without exceptions for rape, incest, or perhaps even threats to the life of the mother.

As Paul Waldman notes today at the Plum Line, these total-ban positions are incredibly, profoundly unpopular, which is why you mainly hear them in intra-Republican discussions. And for that matter, reversal of Roe v. Wade, which has become very close to a universal aspiration among Republican elected officials, isn’t popular, either. That’s one reason (the other reason being efforts to exploit and widen constitutional loopholes) Republicans at the state level have become so adept at designing laws rationalized by “health” concerns or regulations to prevent “late-term abortion mills” that have the intended and actual effect of radically reducing opportunities for all all stages of pregnancy, along with access to contraception, too (though of course antichoicers consider some contraceptives “abortifacients,” which sounds crazy to most people).

Pro-choicers need to push back by shining a continuing spotlight on Republican plans to ban all or nearly all currently legal abortions, regardless of circumstances and certainly regardless of the wishes of the woman whose body we are talking about. And on a deeper level, we need to understand the enormous debt the GOP owes to antichoice activists, who may or may not force congressional Republicans to shut down the government to “defend Planned Parenthood,” but who will absolutely call in all their chits if and when a new Republican President elected in 2016 makes the Supreme Court appointment that could produce an elimination of any constitutional right to choose.

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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.