Note: The segment referred to in this column can be viewed by clicking on this link.
Last week, I had a chance to film a segment on "The Kelly File" with Megyn Kelly. It was a short interview, running a total of just five minutes. For many viewers, one small portion of the interview, running less than thirty-seconds, overshadowed the rest of our exchange.
Take a moment to watch the video portion between the 2:20 –and 2:45 mark. This was the point where many viewers perceived that Megyn was correcting me for using the label “pro abortion” instead of the label “pro choice.” This was followed by her observation that “whatever your views on abortion” celebrating the end of a pregnancy is “a little beyond.” By using the term “beyond,” she seemed to be saying that such a celebration was “beyond the pale.”
As you can see during the segment, I had an opportunity to justify my use of the “pro abortion” label. Indeed, the event I was talking about was one where “I Had an Abortion” tee shirts were being sold to students so they could walk around campus advertising the fact that they had aborted their babies. That the event was indeed pro abortion certainly seemed to register with Megyn, as one would expect. She’s a sharp interviewer. So I was perplexed by the correction. Perhaps Megyn was just trying to keep the attention of abortion supporters.
But time did not permit me to address the part I think Megyn got wrong, which is the idea that celebrating abortion is beyond the pale regardless of your stance on abortion. This is the error that needs to be addressed. It is fundamentally more important than any controversy over the use of labels.
Put simply, whether or not celebrating abortion is beyond the pale is very much contingent upon one’s stance on the legal status of abortion. To conclude otherwise is to lose sight of the central issue in the debate, which is: What exactly are the unborn? Until you answer that question, you have no business weighing in on the legality of abortion.
To suggest that pro-lifers and pro-choicers should both agree that we should not actually celebrate abortion is to suggest that both groups have answered the question “What exactly are the unborn?” If both sides are supposed to agree that we should not actually celebrate abortion then both sides must have concluded that the unborn are human and that, therefore, abortion kills an innocent human being. After all, why would one be appalled by the celebration of abortion if the objects of abortion were mere clumps of cells?
The wrongfulness of suggesting that pro-lifers and pro-choicers should both be appalled by abortion celebration can be illustrated with the following hypothetical:
Imagine that a small child is pinned to the sidewalk while a grown man slowly and methodically cuts off his arms and legs with the goal of dismembering him and then disposing of his body. One observer tries to stop the attack but is restrained by a police officer not allowing him to render aid. A second observer watches the attack but does not intervene. His non-intervention is due to the fact that he believes the act should be legal. Therefore, no officer is needed to restrain him. He is just a disinterested bystander. Finally, a third observer happens upon the scene and begins to jump up and down and cheer the man who is carving up the helpless child. Suddenly, the second observer is no longer disinterested. Now, he’s angry with the third man who had the audacity to celebrate the act he was willing to let happen.
Does the second observer’s reaction to the third observer make sense to you? Why would the disinterested onlooker become angry at the celebration of the attack unless it was a reflection of the moral principle that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings?
But by his willingness to allow innocent human beings to be killed he loses all moral authority to condemn those who would celebrate the killing. And with it he loses credibility when he is reduced to quibbling over the use of labels.