'Pro-Choice' Only Goes so Far

The media's relative radio silence concerning Kermit Gosnell's baby butchery is well-documented at this point, so it's hardly worth mentioning that it will likely continue to be underreported and undercared about by most Americans. Yet still, another peek into the world of abortion rights is merited, if only to examine the neurotic philosophy of the "pro-choice" lobby.

In Arkansas, an anti-abortion law has outlawed the procedure after twelve weeks of pregnancy, which has resulted in two doctors bringing a lawsuit against the state. The Arkansas chapter of the ACLU denounced the law and concurrently announced: "We may not all agree about abortion, but we can all agree that this complex and personal decision should be made by a woman, her family and her doctor, not politicians."

Actually, the crux of people not agreeing about abortion rests entirely on whether or not the decision should be left to individuals or to the law, rendering the ACLU's grand declaration somewhat paradoxical. At any rate, when it comes to "complex and personal decisions," the ACLU is, to say the least, conflicted.

"ACLU Welcomes Health Care Decision," read one of the organization's press releases last year. Which health care decision was that? Nothing too big or consequential, just the Supreme Court's upholding of the Affordable Care Act. You know, the law that takes a massive amount of "complex and personal decisions" away from everyone -- women, families, doctors, you name it. Obamacare is one of the most sweeping anti-choice laws of the past fifty years, but the ACLU "welcomed" it. Is it too much to ask for a little consistency?

It is. President Obama, for one, is also woefully confused when it comes to the definition of choice. He has, of course, been a longtime supporter of abortion rights, affirming his steadfast commitment to a woman's right to choose what to do with her body. Concerning abortion, that is. When it comes to drugs, he's remarkably less enthusiastic about rights, or choices, or bodily sovereignty; the grossly expensive, mass-incarcerating War on Drugs has continued apace under his wise leadership. So it's all about choice, until it's a choice concerning something of which the president disapproves, even if it's something he himself did in moments of youthful indulgence.

Planned Parenthood, too, is yet another progressive outlet that waxes on about the virtues of "choice," but their commitment to choice magically disappears when it's convenient to do so. After the Department of Health and Human Services decided to force employers to provide birth control to their employees regardless of religious objections, Planned Parenthood cheered: "This policy makes it clear that your boss does not get to decide whether you can have birth control." So a religious employer's beliefs and decisions, it seems, are second-rate when it comes to things Planned Parenthood likes.

And lest it be forgotten, while virtually the entire liberal establishment is devoted to expanding a woman's right to abortion, and to birth control, they are also steadfastly dedicated to restricting our choices concerning how we defend ourselves, our loved ones and our property. Dianne Feinstein believes taxpayers should be forced to cover abortion services; she also believes in banning a large variety of weapons for private use. So you can choose to have an abortion on the county, but your rifle magazine better not hold more than ten rounds.

Look around for a little bit, and you'll find the same cheerful disregard for "choice" coming from the ostensibly pro-choice crowd: you can choose, but it better be something they agree with. Disparities in ideology are not uncommon, and it's hard to fault people for inconsistencies when everyone exhibits the same behavior from time to time. But the underlying premise of pro-choice abortion rhetoric is still mystifying: what, exactly, makes abortion such a critical matter of choice? What is it about women's bodies that makes them so choice-worthy?

The answer, of course, is identity politics -- the pandering to a specific group of voters or citizens in order to make them happy and guarantee the politician his political power. There's no other explanation, for if the rhetoric of pro-choice progressives were followed to its logical endpoint, then so much of their cherished laws and traditions would simply have to go: the sin taxes on sodas and cigarettes, the bans on controlled substances, the breathless incredulity that someone, somewhere might eat something high in fat and sodium. Should not these choices, too, be left up to individuals, or to families?

Of course they should. Further still, there's a powerful argument to be made for outlawing abortion in various or all its forms, given its serious moral and ethical implications that are simply not present when one drinks a thirty-ounce soda or smokes a pack of Camels. "Abortion," Potter Stewart wrote, "is inherently different from other medical procedures because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life." But that's a political discussion for another time. For now, it's clear that even were everyone in the country to concede victory to the abortion-rights lobby, and were abortion to be completely legalized from coast to coast, there would still be a great assault on personal choice coming from a wide swath of the political class. Certain people are just not comfortable with the average citizen having a large amount of self-determination over his life and his body. It shows.

We should not be comfortable, at any rate. A great amount of political capital is devoted to elevating women's medical decisions above all other rights, while disparaging or even outlawing the everyday choices that people make based on their values and desires. It is unclear why a large number of politicians believe these two things to be mutually irreconcilable. But it should at least give us pause that they are singing the praises of a "pro-choice" mentality while at the same time seeking to deny so many choices to so many people. Anyone who has to pay Obamacare's individual mandate tax will feel the full force of this reality.