The Corner

Politics & Policy

Abortion-Rights Activists Proved David Brooks Exactly Right

In his latest New York Times piece, columnist David Brooks made a convincing argument for why Democrats shouldn’t subordinate their entire political agenda to the demands of the party’s pro-abortion faction. His analysis is, to my mind, spot-on.

The column outlines shifting public opinion on abortion and explains how Roe v. Wade nationalized a question that would best have been settled state-by-state. Brooks paints a convincing picture of a political landscape in which abortion policy would return to the states, arguing that it would benefit the Democratic party electorally because it would shift pro-lifers’ focus away from the national stage and dilute the potency of single-issue voters.

Even more interesting than the column itself, though, was the overwhelmingly incensed reaction from the left’s most pro-abortion contingencies. Executives from abortion-rights groups NARALPlanned Parenthood, and EMILY’s List fired back at Brooks with their own memos, insisting that he doesn’t understand the science of abortion or trust women to make their own health-care decisions. Left-wing commentators lit into Brooks on Twitter, accusing him of various hyperbolic affronts such as “disregarding women’s lives” and “telling women their bodies are not their own.”

But their fury proved his point even better than he could.

It’s not difficult to see why hardcore abortion supporters would be so enraged by Brooks’s piece: It’s a rational explanation of why it’s politically suicidal for Democrats to unequivocally embrace the abortion-on-demand agenda. And pro-abortion activists are terrified that the Democratic party — which has long been a highly effective vehicle for their outrageous policy goals — will realize Brooks is correct.

Bolstering a regime of unlimited abortion requires whitewashing a growing set of inconvenient truths. Monday’s Senate debate over the 20-week abortion ban proved exactly that. To defend their opposition to the bill — a bill supported by two-thirds of the public, including majorities of Democrats and pro-choice voters — Democratic senators ignored the established science of fetal pain, repeatedly misstated public-opinion data, and relied entirely on cherry-picked stories of women who received late-term abortions in “hard cases” (never mind that the bill provided exceptions for such situations).

That necessary aversion to reality is precisely why the left-wing responses to Brooks were so vociferous. He dared to publicize facts that abortion-rights advocates must conceal to push their extreme agenda through the force of law. Progressives were angry not because Brooks demeaned women’s bodily autonomy — in fact, his column made no qualitative assessments about abortion itself — but because his commonsense case made the job of promoting abortion, on demand and without apology, that much harder.

Americans across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support limiting abortion later in pregnancy. Young Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with late-term abortion. Growing numbers of pro-choice voters support conscience protections such as the Hyde Amendment. Regardless of one’s view on abortion, these are realities that a forward-thinking Democratic party must grapple with. Unfortunately for them, a substantial wing of their party is occupied by activists for whom abortion is nothing short of a sacred calf. As Brooks’s column has proven, any attack on that idol is akin to sacrilege.

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