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Brian Sims and America’s Abortion Endgame

I’ve written quite [1] a few [2] pieces for TAC bemoaning the transformation of the public square into an irradiated no-man’s-land flanked by a pair of armed camps. Usually, I end with an appeal to shared values and a plea for civil public discourse. But the more the debate surrounding the recent wave of anti-abortion bills heats up, the more convinced I become that, on this issue, compromise is impossible.

Both sides seem to agree on that point.

During his two terms as president, Bill Clinton tried to strike a middle ground by advocating for “safe, legal, and rare” abortion, and the Christian Right didn’t go for it. Why would they? If abortion really is killing a baby, then there’s no Aristotelian golden mean between killing a lot of babies and killing no babies.

As the now-disgraced Louis C.K. put it in a 2016 stand-up routine, “[Abortion is] either taking a s**t or it’s killing a baby. It’s only one of those two things. It’s no other things. So if you didn’t like hearing that it’s like taking a s**t, you think it’s like killing a baby. That’s the only other [opinion] you get to have.” For anyone who holds the latter opinion, the idea of compromise is unthinkable.

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Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called [3] Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” which could ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, a “backdoor ban” because, at that early stage, most women don’t even know they’re pregnant. She’s right. The legislators who voted for that law (and similar initiatives in Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi) believe that life begins at conception. Their goal is to ban as many abortions as possible using whatever legislative tactics they think will be effective.

Pro-life activists often criticize pro-choicers for their extremism (such as when Virginia Governor Ralph Northam expressed his approval for killing unwanted babies that had been delivered alive), but the pro-choicers at least had an extreme fringe towards which to move. The pro-life movement, with its uncompromising call to protect all life from the moment of conception, has always been extreme, and justifiably so.

For a while, pro-choicers seemed confident that such “backward” beliefs were destined for the ash heap of history. But with Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, Donald Trump in office, and a slew of Republican-controlled state legislatures setting their sights directly on the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, victory no longer seems quite as certain. The pro-choicers are afraid, and it shows.

Last week, a pair [4] of viral videos [5] surfaced showing Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims harassing and attempting to dox an old woman and a trio of teenagers who were peacefully protesting outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia. Sims called the protestors “racist[s]” and “pseudo-Christians,” and seemed to take pride in his lack of civility. “They bank on us being quiet. They bank on us caring more about decorum than we do about righteous indignation…. This [harassment] is what they deserve, and this is what they need. Every single time any of us walk by something like this, we’re letting them win…. This is disgusting. This isn’t Christianity,” Sims said.

One journalist on Twitter put it even more succinctly [6]: “I don’t care if your anti-abortion friend makes good cookies, always remembers how you take your tea, gets a haircut every 6-8 weeks or really nails the tenor line in choir. They’re not a good person.”

In response to Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” several film production companies announced a boycott [7] of the state, and the ever-#relevant Alyssa Milano called for a #SexStrike (which, I imagine, will only hurt men who are already pro-choice since no pro-life man would ever date or marry the sort of woman who would go along with this nonsense, but never mind).

Feminists, their heads stuffed with images from The Handmaid’s Talefalsely claimed [8] that Georgia’s law would make miscarriage a criminal offense and imprison women who sought abortions. Both sides have mostly [9] refrained from violence so far, but otherwise all options seem to be on the table.

The clear intention of the pro-choice movement in the United States today is to demonize pro-lifers and drive them from the public square. And as the threat to Roe v. Wade intensifies, so will the antagonism towards anyone who refuses to endorse unrestricted abortion on demand as a positive good for society.

So the race is on. The pro-lifers are using every trick in the book to overturn Roe v. Wade and achieve their goals through judicial fiat before they’re pushed to the fringes of a leftward-moving society. The pro-choicers are scrambling to seize the moral high ground, make opposition to abortion unthinkable, and lay the foundation for a stalwart resistance movement should the legal battle go ill for them. Pro-lifers likely won’t get a better opportunity to ban abortion than the one they have right now. If the Supreme Court refuses to consider any of the heartbeat laws or upholds Roe, the Christian Right’s entire raison d’être will collapse, and there will be nothing left to do but embrace the Benedict Option and prepare for a long exile. If the Court overturns Roe, there will almost certainly be violence from the Left, and this country will suffer a tear in its national fabric the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Civil War.

Over the next four years (possibly the next few months), one side or the other is going to lose very badly. All the years between 1973 and now may well have been leading up to this moment. To quote a small independent film that a few of you might have seen: “We’re in the endgame now.”

Grayson Quay is a freelance writer and M.A. at Georgetown University.

106 Comments (Open | Close)

106 Comments To "Brian Sims and America’s Abortion Endgame"

#1 Comment By JeffK On May 19, 2019 @ 8:16 pm

@Kurt Gayle says:
May 18, 2019 at 2:20 pm

“We can tell ourselves that–because 75% of abortion patients are low income–low income women don’t love their unborn children as much as do the rest of us?”.

No. They cannot AFFORD them. So they get abortions. Where do The Republicans stand on increasing aid to single mothers and low income families?

Also, married women have abortions typically because they cannot afford another child. Per Public Med.gov: “Since 1974, the age-standardized abortion rate per 1,000 married women aged 15 to 44 almost doubled from 6.6 to 11.2. For most of these women, it was their first abortion, **and the majority had taken at least one pregnancy to term**.” In other words, they were mothers already.

What legislation have the Republicans proposed lately that has really helped struggling families or low income women? The self-heralded Republican accomplishment of the 2018 tax cut?

Per the NPR article “MARK MAZUR: Low-income families with children might see a tax cut of $50 or $100 a year. In the middle-income categories, the tax cuts would be several hundred dollars.” Big whoop. Read the whole article. The rich made out like bandits.

When Conservatives/Republicans propose and help pass laws that actually help low income families, and single mothers, I will more thoughtfully consider your screed about abortion. Until then, it’s just virtue signalling that ‘you care’ about ‘the babies’. Put your money where your mouth is.

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#2 Comment By Tim On May 20, 2019 @ 11:38 pm

JeffK,

“Possibly because saying there are two victims of homicide strengthens the argument that any embryo is a person, even at 4 weeks, and is deserving of all protections that a born, living human enjoys. Therefore, abortion is banned and anything that causes a miscarriage is murder.

Is opposing that law really that hard to understand?”

Weren’t you just telling me that at five months you think there should be restrictions on abortion? Now you are defending the notion that you can deliberately cause the deaths of human beings at nearly eight months gestation without any legal consequences?

And what of the mother’s choice? She obviously wanted the child, but it’s abundantly clear that the only choice that “pro-choicers” favor is the one that results in a violent death. No wonder you’re trying to deflect so much in your comments here.

It’s pretty clear that the “pro-choice” moniker, aside from describing a position that is an incoherent mess, is simply a pose.

#3 Comment By Tim On May 21, 2019 @ 12:02 am

JeffK,

“So now Tim you get to define what is ‘Pro-life’. Almost everybody agrees that deadly force against a deadly threat is justifiable homicide. Then… Divergence. Many people against the death penalty would consider themselves ‘Pro-life’. I think Sister Helen Prejean would certainly consider herself ‘Pro-life’ before abortion was mentioned.”

You’re projecting here. You were accusing pro-lifers of being hypocritical because many of them support the death penalty.
You were defining the pro-life cause as one that must include opposition to the death penalty, but some people think that executing convicted first degree murderers actually upholds the notion that societies should protect all innocent human life. That does not make them hypocrites.

I don’t think it’s hypocritical to oppose the death penalty and abortion. I do think it’s repugnant to support the death penalty for innocent developing human beings in the womb but not for convicted first degree murderers.

“Ever hear of the ‘No true Scotsman’ logical fallacy? It is of the type Faulty Generalizations.”

Yes, have you ever heard of strawmen?

“Why not just call it ‘Sometimes-Pro-life’ or ‘In most circumstances Pro-life’ or ‘Pro-life as long as I don’t hate you’.”

I’ll just go ahead and call it pro-life.

I’m glad you think Kermit Gosnell belongs in the jail for his illegal abortions, infanticide, etc. But you ignored my main point, which is that the “pro-choice” movement revealed that its concern for “women’s health” is as serious as its concern for “choice.” At the end of the day, they really didn’t care about the appalling treatment that women received in that clinic as long as the abortion/infanticide train kept humming along.

#4 Comment By JeffK On May 21, 2019 @ 12:54 pm

@Tim says:
May 20, 2019 at 11:38 pm

“JeffK,

Weren’t you just telling me that at five months you think there should be restrictions on abortion? Now you are defending the notion that you can deliberately cause the deaths of human beings at nearly eight months gestation without any legal consequences?”

Now you are straw manning (logical fallacy). I am not defending the notion that you can deliberately cause the deaths of human beings at nearly eight months gestation without any legal consequences.

There would be criminal and civil penalties, for sure, for harming the mother intentionally. And I would go along with criminal penalties for harming a fetus that had developed to eight months. Where did I say anything that is contrary to that? Anywhere? Bueller? Anywhere?

What are the statistics? Something like less than 2% of abortion occur after the 5th month? Yet you over-generalize that all people supporting abortion support late term abortion for any reason. The vast majority of people that support abortion do not believe that. Including me.

‘Pro-life’ supporters (Conservatives, Republicans) are, in my opinion, pro-birth. After the baby is born, it, and the mother, are basically on their own.

Like I said above. When Conservatives / Republicans propose and help pass laws that actually help low income families, and single mothers, I will more thoughtfully consider your screed about abortion. Until then, it’s just virtue signalling that ‘you care’ about ‘the babies’. Put your money where your mouth is.

You may not endorse such policies. But your party (Republican) surely does not. If you try to argue Republicans help provide for low income mothers then your heartfelt passion for the unborn will be demonstrably eclipsed by your blind buy-in of discredited Republican dogma.

#5 Comment By Tim On May 21, 2019 @ 11:33 pm

JeffK,

This is what you wrote about why prominent Democrats opposed Laci and Conner’s Law.

“Possibly because saying there are two victims of homicide strengthens the argument that any embryo is a person, even at 4 weeks, and is deserving of all protections that a born, living human enjoys. Therefore, abortion is banned and anything that causes a miscarriage is murder.

Is opposing that law really that hard to understand?

Scott Peterson is currently on death row in CA. He cannot be executed twice. Even if he is never executed he will spend the rest of his life on death row, doing hard time. Justice is served.”

I was supposed to infer from that that you were opposed to that reasoning? Okay then. I’m glad you respect the choice of women who are assaulted/killed and lose their babies. Too bad most of the prominent politicians in your party do not.

I’m also glad that you oppose late-term abortions, but I have to point out that 2% of abortions is still a lot of abortions.

If the CDC numbers are right, then there are roughly 12,000 late-term abortions every year. And contra the garbage article that you posted from Forbes, most partial-birth abortions are elective, as are most late-term abortions. The Alan Guttmacher Institute has demonstrated this, and honest late-term abortionists have testified as much. Martin Haskell, the late-term abortionist who first alerted the pro-life community to the reality of partial-birth abortions admitted to Congress that about 80% of the ones he performed were, in his words, “purely elective.”

Pro-lifers have built a network of CPC’s to help women who are struggling to care for their children. Those CPC’s now outnumber abortion clinics. Many others help women in their communities through their churches. They are doing far more than checking a box every two or four years to demonstrate their commitment to the poor and vulnerable.

I would like to see the Republican Party ditch their fanatical commitment to lower taxes/less regulations and address the needs of the working poor. Trump’s tax cuts with an expanded child-tax credit helps some, and some Senators (Joni Ernst and Marco Rubio) are working on enabling some women to withdraw from their Social Security early to help pay for childcare. But they need to do more.

But let’s get real here. Your side supports deliberately killing innocent, defenseless human beings and would support that position even if the Republican Party were to become full-blown Socialists. The argument that “we can kill but you are just as bad because you don’t address poverty the way we would like” is simply a pathetic attempt at deflecting from your party’s very real pathologies.

And let’s not pretend that the Democratic Party’s policies are objectively great for the poor either. Janet Yellin, who used to chair the Federal Reserve, demonstrated how abortion increased the illegitimacy rate–a trend that makes poverty much harder to escape:

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Poor people have been stuck in Democrat-controlled cities for decades now, and the results have been less than ideal. So all in all, blaming pro-lifers for not embracing policies that have contributed to the very conditions that encourage most abortions as a way to deflect from your party’s rejection of human equality is just a cop out.

#6 Comment By JeffK On May 22, 2019 @ 6:49 pm

@Tim
No matter how much you yell and stomp your feet the majority of Americans don’t believe an embryo, nor a fetus, is a human being. Sorry.

Per Pew, American Views on abortion, 1995-2018.

“As of 2018, public support for legal abortion remains as high as it has been in two decades of polling. Currently, 58% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.”

You can do a your side/my side as much as you want. My opinion is that the Democratic Party is on the moral side of many more issues than the Republican Party. Just ask Cui Bono (who benefits). Most Republican policies benefit the rich Republican donor class.

The US economy generates a tremendous amount of wealth. The Republican party is dedicated to funneling it to their donors. That is all. Pandering to the anti-abortion vote is a means to that end.

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