The videos are hard to refute, and much harder to stomach. Conversations recorded and released by the Center for Medical Progress have dealt a hefty blow to Planned Parenthood’s public image. While the reversal of Roe v. Wade seems a distant legal mirage, the videos have powerfully reminded us what abortion is: it is always the death of an unborn person, whose body parts can be crushed and extracted and exchanged for money.
Planned Parenthood has responded tepidly, apologizing for the “tone” used by its medical director. The activists behind the videos have slated several more for release. As the videos continue to stir public debate, we can expect to hear a common refrain: If you care about women, you will support their right to choose an abortion. You are either for women’s well-being and empowerment, or you are pro-life.
This is a false dichotomy—one that women in particular need to dismantle.
The dichotomy is reinforced by lobbyists, media, and tone-deaf politicians alike. In 2012, pro-choice advocates warned of a “war on women,” arguing that male politicians can’t create policies that involve women’s bodies. Meanwhile, Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment and Richard Mourdock’s statement that rape is God’s plan reinforced that, if there wasn’t a war, there was serious lack of compassion toward women. Throughout 2016, Planned Parenthood will assuredly argue that Hillary Clinton—whom they awarded for her “unwavering support of women’s health and rights”—“gets” women like other candidates can’t.
But on the level of hearts and minds, politicians don’t have the last word. ...1