Cohen Knocks the Old Orthodoxy on Roe

I gave up reading Richard Cohen a long time ago, but my friends at the American Spectator blog drew my attention to his latest effort. If the headline didn’t give it away, Cohen (though still pro-choice) admits he’s no fan of Roe:

I no longer see abortion as directly related to sexual freedom or feminism, and I no longer see it strictly as a matter of personal privacy, either. It entails questions about life — maybe more so at the end of the process than at the beginning, but life nonetheless.

This is not a fashionable view in some circles, but it is one that usually gets grudging acceptance when I mention it. I know of no one who has flipped on the abortion issue, but I do know of plenty of people who no longer think of it as a minor procedure that only prudes and right-wingers oppose. The antiabortion movement has made headway.

There is such a thing as cognitive dissonance. It is not possible to keep going as a culture that celebrates the ultrasound and the abortion license at the same time. Cohen is one more indicator of that fact.

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10 thoughts on “Cohen Knocks the Old Orthodoxy on Roe

  1. Great line Hunter…cognitive dissonance indeed.

    I’m a bit curious as to how Cohen got to this point. I could understand it if he said that Roe was just bad law, but he hints at something more…yet remains pro-choice.

    What an interesting position to be in…he’s pro-choice and apparently anti-drug, anti-prostitution…how do you get there?

  2. Naomi Wolfe (an Al Gore adviser) had her own revelation years ago. She said feminists had to admit abortion = death or else risk losing their souls over dishonesty. At the same time, she remained strongly pro-choice. Basically, it was be pro-choice, but admit that it’s a terrible thing. I think that was the precursor to “safe, legal, and rare.” Unfortunately, as we saw, “rare” included protecting partial birth abortion at all costs.

  3. Interesting. Did Ms Wolfe ever address infanticide? I’m assuming she was against it, but on what grounds?

    (Or maybe I’m missing something in the definition of abortion = death.)

  4. She agreed it was basically a killing, but still insisted that if it is me vs. my fetus/child, then I still have the choice for me (my hopes, my vision of my life). Sounds like justified homicide to me, but she wouldn’t put it so starkly.

  5. Call me a dreamer, but I would like to believe that one day Cohen woke up and remembered that he was the descendant of Aaron.

    “Then Aaron took [the incense] as Moses had instructed and he ran into the midst of the congregation, where the plague had begun among the citizenry; he placed the incense and atoned for the nation. And he stood between the dead and the living, then the plague was stopped.” (Numbers 17:12-13)

    According to tradition, Aaron actually faced down the Angel of Death and forced him to back down. That is what is being hinted at in the oblique phrase: “And he stood between the dead and the living…”

    It’s about time that people named Cohen realized that they were entrusted with a sacred calling to preserve life.

  6. I suppose that anything is possible, Jay, but I doubt that Cohen is motivated by a religio-ethnic revelation. We would see evidence of that elsewhere in his life and writings, and we haven’t.

    The simpler explanation is the more likely one: that the increasing publicization of what actually goes on in the womb during pregnancy has affected Cohen as strongly as it has many of the rest of us.

    As to your Biblical exegesis, I hope that you are not claiming that Scripture suggests that Aaron forced the Angel of Death to back down. Clearly the passage is saying that it was God who did so.

  7. Naomi Wolfe (an Al Gore adviser) had her own revelation years ago. She said feminists had to admit abortion = death or else risk losing their souls over dishonesty. At the same time, she remained strongly pro-choice. Basically, it was be pro-choice, but admit that it’s a terrible thing. I think that was the precursor to “safe, legal, and rare.” Unfortunately, as we saw, “rare” included protecting partial birth abortion at all costs.

    As a woman I get annoyed with men discussing abortion. They aren’t the ones that have life changing decisions to make. I’ve been there, faced the medical consequences and said “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, I want my baby”. But nobody else could make that decision for me.

    For the first few months after conception, the baby is irretrievably linked to mom. It can’t survive without her and is factually a parasite (yes, she created the parasite). It gets into a sticky quagmire when we start assigning equal rights because the two can’t be separated. That is, BTW, why I think partial birth abortions are an abomination and libs and feminists should be shot for supporting them.

    I would sacrifice right to abortions (sans life of mom) if the opponents would budge on access to education about birth control, sex, etc. To me its a trade-off to rare. If we would get teenagers information about sex and prevention we’d end up with less pregnancies. The quality of life for women goes down drastically the younger they are and having babies. Ditto for funding for child care, education as to adoption alternatives, etc.

    Matt – the difference between infanticide and abortion is that the infant can survive without mom, it’s not my live versus the life within me.

    Ethically I see abortion as an ends/means social policy. While morally we understand it may mean death for basically an “unformed” person, the social consequences of not allowing abortion are poverty, child abuse, etc. by having unwanted children be born. Most abortions are not performed for middle-class women.

    I think we ultimately end up uncomfortable, because on one level, there is a wrongness to it, or a callousness, that we can’t escape, BUT, there also are the cold, hard facts of the consequences of not allowing abortions.

  8. Matt – the difference between infanticide and abortion is that the infant can survive without mom, it’s not my live versus the life within me.

    How long would an infant last without its mom?

  9. How long would an infant last without its mom?

    Until the infant’s dad is able to take care of it. Or some good samaritan. Infant doesn’t require mom.

    I’ve thought at times that the soap opera fantasies of infant transplants are kind of interesting as an ultimate abortion solution.

  10. Infant doesn’t require mom.

    The same could be said of a fetus…doctors (like dad in your scenario) could extract the fetus and take care of the baby.

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