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“The Happy Warrior”
Safe, Legal, and Rare...Oh My!


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Mark Steyn

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the May 17, 2004, issue of National Review.

A decade ago, Elizabeth Taylor was going from one celebrity AIDS rally to another urging us to make sure we “use a condom every time you have sex, every time.” Every time, Liz? Apparently so, until one day mankind is extinct and giant condoms roam the earth, bouncing across the ruins of our civilization like playful prophylactics in animated Scandinavian health-ministry announcements.

The spirit of Liz lurked just below the surface at Washington’s Million Abortionist March, or whatever it was called. For people who talked endlessly about “reproductive rights,” they seemed remarkably indifferent, if not downright hostile, to exercising them.

I concede that I’m anti-abortion. If I were pro-abortion, I’d probably sound like Teresa Heinz Kerry, who told Newsweek that the act involves “stopping the process of life” but that “I ask myself, ‘If I had a 13-year-old daughter who got drunk one night and got pregnant, what would I do?’” If I had to go a bit further, I might even sign on to her husband’s line (“safe, legal, rare,” blah, blah, nuanced boilerplate, zzzzzzz).

But, if I can just about conceive (if you’ll forgive the expression) the leap from my position to Teresa’s and from Teresa’s to Senator Flippy’s, I can’t imagine how you’d get from Senator Flippy’s to the bulk of the sentiments on display at the big march itself. Whoopi Goldberg brandishing a coat hanger. Surly women stomping about with “Keep Your Bush Off My Bush” placards. The decay of a fluffy soft-focus euphemism into just another crude insult: “If Only Barbara Bush Had Choice.” The freaky, barely grasped meaning of all those speakers’ regrets that their own mothers never enjoyed the freedoms they have – as Maxine Waters put it, “I have to march because my mother could not have an abortion.” The casual dismissal of half the human race: “The Opinions of Those with Nothing At Stake Are Worth Little”; “If Men Got Pregnant, They’d Make Abortion a Sacrament.”

Actually, it’s the sisterhood who’ve made abortion the sacrament for a brave new religion of the self. Had Teresa Heinz Kerry stood up and read out her Newsweek quotes, she’d have been booed: No one on the Mall wanted to hear about the agonized parents of distraught adolescents helping them to the soi-disant “difficult personal decision.” Abortion isn’t difficult or agonizing, but something to be celebrated, the central freedom of a modern woman’s identity.

Before the century is out, the Left will come to regret the conflation of feminism and abortion.

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