The media get suckered by Ron Fitzsimmons--again.
There is little doubt about the pro-choice media's unquestioning acceptance of the faulty pro-choice statistics. Editorial boards at the Washington Post and the New York Times took the position that a ban on late-term abortions is bad because it affects only women carrying badly deformed babies who have no other alternative. Perhaps the uncritical reportage of Fitzsimmons' new story can be explained by pangs of guilt about the uncritical reportage of his old one.
Pro-choicers have muddled the debate over late-term abortions, and the Fitzsimmons affair is their disingenuous strategy coming back to bite them. Instead of categorically defending a woman's right to an abortion, they have chosen to challenge pro-lifers on the pro-lifers' turf. They squabble over the details of late-term abortions. But these details are their weakest points. Abortion is necessarily an ugly business, and it doesn't do them any good to debate the extent of its ugliness. Once Congress agrees to regulate one sort of abortion because it is gruesome, the pro-lifers will immediately turn to another form of abortion and insist that it, too, be regulated, because it, too, is gruesome.
If a fetus is a fully human life, then all abortion is murder and the debate over any particular procedure is beside the point. But the pro-life movement recognizes it has lost the larger debate, and has therefore adopted a step-by-step strategy. If abortion is not wrong--irrespective of the circumstances--then the issue becomes a tradeoff among unpleasant alternatives. And the question is not which of these alternatives is more unpleasant, but whether the government should be making the decision.
Franklin Foer is editor at large of the New Republic. He is the author of How Soccer Explains the World.