Hat-tip to Jessica: Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis talks about how liberals should talk about abortion. Unlike most “We should talk about abortion like this” arguments, his is very strong: his primary argument is that it’s a bad idea to concede that abortion is bad.
The most convincing way to frame abortion is as a medical procedure. It’s usually not medically necessary, but neither are many common non-plastic medical treatments: flu shots, most antibiotic treatments, common pills like aspirin, casts for broken limbs.
Obviously, the conservative moral objection here is that abortion kills a living being, while antibiotics don’t. In the medium and long runs, it’s crucial to address that, to make sure that graphic displays of fetuses after a dilation and evacuation don’t make people emotionally support abortion bans.
The current frame – “Abortion is not murder, a fetus is not a child, and a woman is not an incubator” – is something that should never be said outside the nooks and crannies of Democratic Underground. Instead, the best way to reassure people who are afraid that abortion kills people is to talk about neurulation and cognitive development. Human self-awareness begins somewhere between week 31 of pregnancy – when even dilation and extraction is impossible – and a few weeks after birth. Liberals talk about that a lot less than they should.
Although most of Bill Scher’s presentation is good, toward the end he suggests something that will probably not work: to acknowledge people’s moral objection to abortion and try arguing from some form of relativism. That will just allow conservatives to portray liberals as immoral, instead of as having different moral judgments. The phrase “legislate morality” is powerful enough that it’s easier to just attack the idea that there’s something wrong about killing a fetus.