With friends like this …

There are many things I believe about Donald Trump that his fans will argue with. I don’t see how they can realistically deny this, though:

All along, critics of the anti-abortion movement have dismissed its moral appeals and deployment of the language of civil rights, calling it window dressing on a cause that is really motivated by hostility to feminism — and above all, by the drive to limit women’s autonomy, stymie their career ambitions, and reaffirm the primacy of their social role as mothers.

For decades the pro-life movement has fought this characterization. In doing so, it has drawn on the rhetoric of such anti-abortion crusaders as Richard John Neuhaus, who adapted language from his days marching for civil rights with Martin Luther King, and the rationalist and universalistic moral arguments of legal philosopher Robert P. George, who has appealed to the tradition of natural law theorizing in forging his arguments against abortion.

The moral message of these men is simple and powerful: The fetus is a member of the human species from the time of conception; all members of the human species, no matter how small, weak, or dependent, possess innate dignity and hence a right to life; all abortion is therefore the taking of an innocent human life and so must be outlawed along with other forms of murder. This was a line of argument about the rights and legal status of the fetus, not one about the proper place of women in American society.

But a pro-life movement whose greatest political champion is Donald Trump has no hope for maintaining such a high-minded construal of its motives and priorities. When Trump speaks at the March for Life, the country will see the pro-life cause forthrightly advocated by a serial adulterer who’s repeatedly been accused of rape, who cheated on his wife with a porn star shortly after the birth of their son, and who has been caught on tape bragging about his facility at sexual assault. Trump has spent a lifetime using women for his own gratification and then tossing them away like garbage — and he will now be the most powerful and prominent promoter of a movement that would prevent the victims of such treatment from asserting some modicum of control over its consequences on their bodies and future lives.

Damon Linker

January 26, 2020

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