Rachel Maddow Goes to Bat for Late-Term Abortion

I have to admit, I occasionally like watching Rachel Maddow.  Her show is more comedy than commentary.  She has such confidence that her wit is so acerbic and seems so pleased with herself after delivering it that watching her fall flat can be pretty entertaining.  It's almost like watching an unfunny Jon Stewart where the sarcasm just doesn't bite, but there is plenty of unintentional humor to be found.

But in a recent rant, the unscrupulousness of what she said was just too much to bear, and I couldn't just chuckle it off.  Rachel Maddow laments our country's acceptance of the "common wisdom" that the emergence of the Tea Party has changed the focus of the Republican constituency.  She contends that the rhetoric of the 2010 Congressional campaigns skewed the issues to present a more budget-minded conservative America that has cast aside its roots on social issues, but in reality, Republicans, Tea Party affiliated or not, are still just the same theocratic nutjobs they've always been, as evidenced by legislation passed in the last year limiting abortion rights.

Essentially, she calls America stupid in this rant.  Yep, you've been duped, you shmucks.  You actually buy the nonsense that Tea Party conservatives are concerned with budgets and debt ceilings and taxes -- and maybe you foolishly like what they have to say about all that -- but it's all just a clever ploy to take away your right to abort your unborn children.  Don't you know that?  Just look at the Ohio legislation that will "likely be passed" banning abortion.  Of course, as she speaks of this, the camera flashes a newspaper clipping, and there, in big, bold letters, the headline reads that the bill will ban only "late-term abortions."  But she didn't say "late-term abortions."  She specifically repeats "abortions."

Prior to the Tea Party uprising, the popular consciousness on abortion had been largely split as to whether or not abortions should be legal.  However, polls throughout the last decade overwhelmingly show that a nearly constant and decided majority has believed abortion is morally wrong.  Perhaps that explains the why the current "anti-abortion" legislation isn't getting the backlash that the hard-lined left would expect.  Most of it, like the mandatory 3D ultrasound consultation, has been designed to ensure that women (often, young and naïve women) are provided ample information to make an informed decision about what the procedure entails and the level of development of their child.  This legislation is meant to ensure that a morally questionable act is not a frivolous medical procedure, but an important decision that will dictate the life of not just the mother, but the potential life her child could lead.  Yet none of it is meant to take away the mothers right to abort if she should choose that path.  Except in the matter of late-term abortions, which all but the most devout pro-choicer would admit is a horse of a different color. 

Staunch pro-choice advocates have a tendency to lump late-term abortions with early- term abortions, as Maddow does here.  But where early-term abortions might allow for a moral gray area, it is clear that anyone with a conscience would abhor the practice of late-term abortions, not just Christian theocrats.

And long before the advent of the Tea Party, Americans had been adamantly against late-term abortions.  Perhaps that is because there is a prevalent awareness that the late second- or third-term fetus is, scientifically speaking, an encapsulated human life immersed in amniotic fluid, with bodily functions regularly taking place and nervous development that allows for physical sensation.  Or maybe many Americans, as this author did two years ago, have experienced and recognize the significance in witnessing random gyrations and realizing that the little life inside has the hiccups, and they can then set the experiences of a life inside the womb against the lives we lead after we've left our first sanctuary.

Whatever the reason, Americans can put two and two together and realize that third-term abortions are more aptly labeled infanticide, and more akin to murder than a medical procedure.  So here's the question.  Since the Constitution does not prescribe the power to allow or disallow abortions to the federal government, why would Rachel Maddow suggest that a state performing local governance to end a deplorable practice is a bad thing?  Why would she present such a constitutionally and morally sound action as a legitimate threat to America?  Is she just that devoid of reason?

Clearly.  But to address her allegation that the "common wisdom" surrounding conservatives has been misleading, I would like to assure her that Republicans certainly care about budgets, debt ceilings, and taxes, and as contemporary conservatives feel those issues will most directly affect our continued prosperity in this heretofore successful experiment called the American republic, they are a top priority.  But to quote our president, we can walk and chew gum at the same time.  And simply because we've prioritized which issues are the more pressing does not mean that we've abandoned all of our other values.

William Sullivan blogs at: polticalpalaverblog.blogspot.com