There's an old heel wrestling trick, that I best remember being practiced by Randy "Macho Man" Savage. When the babyface, say Ricky Steamboat, started gaining momentum, and is about to stat puttin' a hurtin' on the Macho Man, savage would grab his beautiful valet, Miss Elizabeth, and put her between himself and his charging attacker as if to say, "you wouldn't hurt a girl, would you?" to buy himself some time.
Anna Quindlen is playing a similar game with her "How much jail time?" Newsweek column challenging pro-lifers to name an appropriate criminal penalty for a woman who procures an abortion.
To its credit, National Review Onlline posted a symposium of good responses to Quindlen's challenge.
I'd like to focus on something else -- this is yet another illustration of how anti-woman the pro-choice movement is.
They recognize their on the ropes. Scientific advances are making it increasingly difficult to maintain that the object of abortion is not a human life. The Democratic party is taking steps to not be perceived as stridently in favor of unrestricted abortion. The balance of power in the Supreme Court has shifted.
So how does the abortion lobby respond? By challenging us to throw women in jail instead of abortionists, hoping that'll put the pro-lifers on the defensive long enough for them to think of another strategy.
The abortion lobby will go to great lengths to defend the right of physicians to make money by removing unwanted fetuses. And don't call them "abortion doctors," either.
But women? They're bargaining tools. In spite of the fact that none of the abortion laws that Roe v. Wade invalidated mandated a punishment for a woman who procured abortion, and pro-life people have literally not even considered punishing them, the abortion lobby wants to start a conversation about how much jail time they should do if they continue to lose ground. Isn't that sweet?
But Quindlen and her friends take it a step further: if they lose, the other side must punish women who procure abortions. If they're going to lose, they're taking American women down with them. With friends like these...
When you watched the Mach Man, you always wondered why Miss Elizabeth stayed with a man who treated her so crappily. Perhaps American women should ask the same question of themselves and the abortion lobby.
Throughout the piece, Quindlen says that to illegalize abortion but not punish women would be to accept an infantilized vision of women as helpless victims without a concept of responsibility or morality.
If this is the case, then the abortion lobby has done more to create this vision than anyone else. The narrative of the poor helpless woman who "finds herself pregnant." That it's unreasonable to expect them to make a link between sex and pregnancy. That anyone who says that people need to take care of the children they conceive are Puritanical brutes.
In any case, I don't think that raising this question will have the results Quindlen thinks it will. Sure, she may have fun seeing dumbfounded looks on pro-lifers' faces, but it also undermines the narrative they want to create about pro-lifers -- that we're out to punish women. That we haven't considered that criminal punishment reveals that -- surprise! -- we're more about protecting unborn life than we are about punishing women.
So go ahead -- keep asking that question, and keep smugly chuckling as pro-lifers struggle with the question. But don't think you're making your cause look more appealing to women, or the pro-life position less appealing.