Everything’s suddenly upside down. Bill O’Reilly is talking sense, and Ann Coulter is talking nonsense.
In her most recent column, Ann takes quite a swipe at Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock whom, she charges, “[i]n order to be pro-life badasses,” argued “for abortion positions that less than 1 percent of the nation agrees with.” (“Don’t Blame Romney”):
No law is ever going to require a woman to bear the child of her rapist. Yes, it's every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape. But sentient human beings are capable of drawing gradations along a line.
Of course sentient beings are capable of drawing gradations along a line. I’m proudly casuistical myself, never happier than when making fine distinctions and recognizing gradations where appropriate. Spectrums and gradients are particularly suited to questions about civil unions for homosexuals, or the strictness of enforcement is immigrations law, or whether or not the Second Amendment entitles you to mount twin .50-caliber machine guns on the roof of your car.
But where issues of deliberate killing are concerned measuring by degrees is almost never appropriate – if nothing else because death isn’t a thing of degrees, just like there’s no such thing as being a little bit pregnant.
The moral premise that underlies all rational thinking about abortion – namely, that all humans enjoy a right to life -- can’t be defended with a ruler: it requires a wall. In legal parlance, it needs a “bright line,” a flaming demarcation establishing a distinction that no one can claim confusion about. By and large liberals avoid bright lines, vastly preferring continuums and spectrums for being blissfully barrier-free. A spectrum has no tyrannical borders dictating where blue becomes green, and on a sexual continuum Alex and Alexis can be the same person without the ugly necessity of labels. Even Harvard grads can be agnostic about when human life begins!
On the other hand, a bright line has no gradations, because its object isn’t to measure points along a continuum, but to divide absolutely what is black from what is white. And while it’s true not every moral issue is black and white, and that not every issue requires a bright-line rule, the right-to-life issue does. Every time we forget to insist that the lives of the unborn are an absolute, ten million more of them get wrapped up as medical waste.
By logical necessity, this bright line excludes the possibility that any unborn children can be stranded, without legal protection, on the far side of the line. But let that barrier get turned over sideways and painted as a scale – let’s call it the hard-case scale – and it’s no longer able to guard the sacredness of life. Instead, it’s only good for assigning a value to a mother’s tragic circumstances. In every single case pro-abortionists will use this scale to measure out woe enough to justify abortion. And that’s exactly how it’s been used, with sickening success, for more than forty years, from those mythical days when trimesters and viability were supposed to measure out protections for unborn lives, all the way to today’s terminations at any time, even after a live birth in cases of botched abortions.
Ann Coulter surely knows the pro-life bright line well; she relies on it to gauge, correctly, that the child of a rapist is “every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape.” But she inexplicably abandons the sacred line for another one for “drawing gradations along,” the same kind of ruler the liberals use. And when you use their ruler, you have to use their rules.
Accordingly, this week of all weeks, we have our pro-life heroine arguing that “[t]he overwhelming majority of people -- including me -- are going to say the law shouldn’t force someone who has been raped to carry the child.”
Which astonishes me for this reason: I can’t find any difference between this statement of hers and the same old pro-abortion lecture we’ve heard for years that the law shouldn’t force anyone who is pregnant with any unwanted baby to carry the child. The demonic genius by which pro-abortion doctrine was repackaged as “pro-choice” -- i.e., the pretense of personally regretting abortions while not wanting to “impose one’s beliefs on others” – has empowered decades of successful redefinitions of every imaginable restriction on abortion, even laws to merely insure a woman is making an informed decision, as “forcing” a woman to bear a child against her will.
Oddly, we know Ann Coulter doesn’t believe that laws restricting most abortions are impermissible force. She says right in this week’s article that, rape being the exception, “abortion should be illegal in most other cases.” But she never explains how she distinguishes between a legally impermissible killing in most other cases and one we’re insane if we don’t accept as legally permissible (and I presume morally permissible) in the case of rape. What objective standard enables her to determine that, for lack of meeting a minimum criterion of grief and unhappiness, a different mother’s decision to abort her child must be prohibited by law? The only measurable criterion she’s described is, in cases of conception of a child by rape, there’s a higher degree of tragedy and suffering involved for the mother.
We’ve had forty years to learn just how liberals apply abortion-metrics without an objective standard: grant liberals their argument that a mile of trouble entitles this woman to destroy her unborn child, and they’ll insist that only a half inch of trouble entitles that woman to the same thing. If not, why not? That’s where drawing gradations on a line gets us in this fight.
No one on our side is denying the measure of tragedy implied in a pregnancy caused by rape. From what I’ve read of it, neither Akin nor Mourdock ever intended to deny, nor did deny, any such thing. Both men were caught short trying to ad lib debate answers when they stepped in an ethical quicksand that, frankly, only the most morally shallow person could have attempted to cross without sinking. If anything got the two of them off balance, it was their own logical consistency. Didn’t they both hold Ann’s own opinion that the child of a rapist is “every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape”? Ergo . . .
The difference is, they wrestled with the logic of it under pressure and very publicly stumbled, while she has, at her leisure, now thrown logic aside in favor of a sliding scale of pathos.