New book urges the left to embrace abortion as a 'social good'

Writing in Slate, Hanna Rosin touts a new book that urges women to abandon the "awfulization" of abortion and embrace it as a positive social good.

I had an abortion. I was not in a libertine college-girl phase, although frankly it’s none of your business. I was already a mother of two, which puts me in the majority of American women who have abortions. Six out of 10 are mothers, which makes sense, because a mother could not fool herself into believing that having another baby was no big deal.

I start the story this way because Katha Pollitt, author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, would want it this way. In fact any woman who’s reading this piece and has had an abortion, or any man who has supported one, should go in the comments section and do the same thing, until there are so many accounts that the statement loses its shock value. Because frankly, in 2014, it should be no big deal that in a movie a young woman has an abortion and it’s no big deal. We shouldn’t need a book explaining why abortion rights are important. We should be over that by now.

The reason we’re not, according to Pollitt, is that we have all essentially been brainwashed by a small minority of pro-life activists. Only 7 to 20 percent of Americans tell pollsters they want to totally ban abortion, but that loud minority has beaten the rest of us into submission with their fetus posters and their absolutism and their infiltration of American politics. They have landed us in the era of the “awfulization” of abortion, Pollitt writes, where even pro-choicers are “falling all over themselves” to use words like “thorny,” “vexed,” “complex,” and “difficult” instead of doing what they should be doing, which is saying out loud that abortion is a positive social good.

Pollitt aims her book at the “muddled middle” who have been infected by the awfulization without thinking about it that much. To win them back she’s crafted a lengthy Socratic response dissecting the contradictions on the pro-life side. If you know Pollitt’s writing at all, it’s no surprise what she believes. But by the end of the book, it’s a surprise to realize that while the fight over abortion has been going on for more than 40 years, we’ve all forgotten what’s at stake. The left especially has lost sight of its original animating purpose.

Amazing rationalization.Trying to make abortion as easy on the conscience as throwing out bathwater is despicable and nauseating. Abortion should  be a wrenching decision and experience. To trivialize the killing of an unborn child is unconscionable and even many liberal women who support abortion rights will violently disagree with the premise of this book.

While it is true that only a small percentage of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in all instances, a near majority - or a majority in some polls - believe that it should be severerly restricted. It is hardly a fringe position. And if pro-life activists want to try and make women feel guilty about getting an abortion, you can easily justify it by pointing out that it saves lives.

Promoting the rancid notion that abortion is a positive good, that it's just another form of birth control will not fly. Fortunately. most women have a conscience that will not allow them to think that what they're doing in killing their baby has any upside al all.


If you experience technical problems, please write to