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Harden Your Hearts


In an article about the apparent (and admittedly, mildly shady) efforts of a filmmaker to deemphasize his Christian background in promoting a film about the horrors of sex selective abortion in China and India, Slate writer and “human rights” lawyer Sital Kalantry advises pro-choicers to take care not to be seduced by the film’s pro-life message, which Kalantry herself calls ”subtle.”

The closest the movie comes to endorsing a broad anti-abortion message is at the end, when Indian writer Rita Banerji states that “all life is sacred.” The final scene is a lengthy heart-wrenching depiction of a woman playing with her two daughters who she refused to abort despite her in-laws’ insistence. But the message is subtle enough that a recent review appearing in the Atlantic claims that the movie “doesn’t buttress either pro-life or pro-choice—or, at least, doesn’t buttress one at the expense of another.”

Apparently, Kalantry thinks letting a woman say “all life is sacred” on camera amounts to “a trick” aimed at softening the resolve of sentimental pro-choicers. (I know Kalantry thinks it’s a trick because she entitled her post “It’s a Trick.”) She warns that pro-life forces are cynically exploiting our understandable horror at the destruction of fetuses because of their sex to confuse us into reacting with horror at the destruction of fetuses for other reasons:

Pro-life groups have in recent years begun using the practice of sex-selective abortion—a practice that is rare in the United States—in foreign countries as an excuse for limiting women’s access to abortion here at home. A bill was recently filed in the North Carolina legislature to ban sex-selective abortion, and a similar bill was defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives last year. Although no one supports sex-selective abortion, pro-choice groups correctly worry that such laws could be misused to restrict abortion more broadly.

I’m among those who thinks that the pro-life movement — or at least some of its most vocal elements — too often show insufficient empathy for women who conclude that abortion is their only option, often under great psychological and emotional strain. But I have to say that the combination of moral precepts necessary for the above paragraph to make any damned sense at all is completely foreign to me.

“No one supports sex-selective abortion.” But of course! We just support the broadest possible right for a woman to choose abortion. which necessarily includes her right to choose abortion for any old arbitrary reason. 


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