Is Wendy Davis a Hero or the New Kermit Gosnell? Nick Gillespie on Our Stupid Abortion Debate
I've got a piece at The Daily Beast about the way politicians and the press talk about abortion. Here's a snippet:
The media response to Davis' filibuster, which dominated Twitter and other social media last Tuesday, ran to the extremes that we've come to expect in any discussion of supposedly divisive social issues. Depending on your point of view, Davis is either a brave hero fighting for women everywhere or the second coming ofKermit Gosnell, the notorious Philadelphia doctor recently found guilty of murdering babies.
So, despite decades of polling data showing that large majorities of Americans believe abortion should be legal under some circumstances, you could be excused for thinking there are only two possible positions when it comes to terminating pregnancies: Either all abortions should be allowed or none should be.
That sort of Manicheanism is at odds with a country in which about 88 percent of people believe that abortion should be legal through the first two trimesters but only 14 percent believe it should be legal in the third. My point isn't that the majority is inherently right (or wrong). It's about the way the press and politicians talk about things:
As a diehard libertarian, I'm not arguing that issues of basic rights should be put to a majority vote (for the record, I'm pro-choice). God, no.
But if you're actually interested in persuading people to your point of view or effecting social change, it certainly behooves you to understand where they are on a given topic. You wouldn't know that from the way politicians and the press talk about abortion. Sadly, as abortion reclaims its leading role in America's culture wars, get set for a lot of heat and very little light. And virtually no interest whatsoever in what the majority of Americans actually think about the topic.