Posted on December 23, 2008
Abortionists' indefensibility defense
One of the most effective ways of defending the indefensible is to use its very indefensibility as a rhetorical shield. All you have to do is to say that nobody would ever do the terrible thing you're doing, and most people will believe you, contrary to what their own eyes and ears tell them.
The pro-abortion movement has adopted this tactic, through its employment of the talking point that "nobody is really pro-abortion" -- a claim whose absurdity ought to be self-evident. The latest illustration of this is in Planned Parenthood of Indiana's decision to sell Christmas gift certificates. The PPIN website says that the certificates can be used "to cover essential services like screenings and birth control." The fact that they can also be used to pay for abortions, the one "service" for which the population control organization is best known, is treated as if it were an unintended consequence.
PPIN president Betty Cockrum feigned surprise at the inevitable criticism from anti-abortion groups, defensively adding that "95 percent of what we do is provide basic health care." If that sounds implausible, that's because of the total dishonesty with which supporters and practitioners of abortion define their terms. The way Planned Parenthood tallies its services, "basic health care" encompasses everything except the abortion procedure itself.
The simple fact that pregnancy tests fall into that category makes the number of abortions sound comparatively insignificant, despite the fact that the purpose of the tests is to sell the abortions. Naturally, once you subtract all the women who test negative, and then all the pregnant women who refuse to abort, the ratio of abortions to pregnancy tests is fairly small. Cockrum's using that fact to downplay Planned Parenthood's involvement in abortion, however, is a complete and deliberate misrepresentation.
In reality, the gift certificates are just the next in a series of stunts meant to tweak the group's Christian opponents. For the last several years, Planned Parenthood has been trying to sell Christmas cards with the slogan "Choice On Earth." Apparently, "Termination On Earth" didn't go over as well in the focus groups. More recently, the "not pro-abortion" activists tried peddling "I Had An Abortion" tee-shirts. "I Survived The Abortion Clinic" might have been more fitting.
Their claim that they want to reduce the number of abortions would be laughable, if so many people didn't take their word at face value. Planned Parenthood owns the largest chain of abortion clinics in the world. For them to deny being pro-abortion is like saying that Krispy Kreme is not pro-donuts. Nevertheless, abortion opponents are routinely criticized for refusing to cooperate with Planned Parenthood, toward the mythical common goal of reducing the frequency of abortion. Seldom, if ever, are representatives from that group asked why they would be committed to do such a thing, in light of their obvious motives to the contrary.
If they were, then the fundamental flaw of the indefensibility defense would make itself apparent. Those who are committing the indefensible act must recognize their disavowal of it as an indictment of themselves. For that reason, this tactic threatens to stir controversy among abortion advocates, some of whom, finding others' repudiations too harsh, will begin to question those people's commitment to the cause.
This is what happened to Kate Michelman, when she was president of the National Abortion Rights Action League back in 1993, and said during an interview, "We think abortion is a bad thing." Under intense criticism from her colleagues, Michelman tried to deny making the remark, until the reporter reminded her that their conversation had been recorded.
If it's wrong to say that the thing that nobody's "pro-" is a bad thing, individual abortion apologists can't possibly know where to draw the line. If abortion is not a bad thing, then why must one say there should be fewer of them? If there's nothing wrong with one abortion, what can be so wrong with millions of them? This dilemma points to a more elementary weakness in their movement, in that individuals within it are not free to speak their minds, but instead must restrict themselves to a tiny reservoir of approved terminology.
That's one of the problems with using a rhetorical shield; it's confining. Another problem is that it's always right there in front of you. In this case, the promoters of abortion have constructed a constant reminder to themselves that what they're doing is so wrong, they've got to publicly denounce it. Funny, it's almost like having a conscience.-- Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
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