Not that I think anyone confuses commentator Andrea Mitchell, or anyone employed at MSNBC for that matter, as a paragon of objectivity or evenhandedness when it comes to discussions of public policy, but this last week she made sure to remove any doubt.
Hosting a conversation with Capitol Hill Correspondent Garrett Haake on the subject of abortion, Mitchell issued a correction when Haake referred to those that profess a belief in the human rights of preborn babies as "pro-life."
MITCHELL: We had Nancy Mace, of course, the Republican from South Carolina, on yesterday and she spoke very, you know, passionately about why she thought it was the wrong tone for her caucus to be pursuing this abortion legislation and why it was unfair to women, especially women who have been subjected to rape or incest or, you know, other forms of sexual violence and she ended up voting for the abortion measures. Explain that.
GARRETT HAAKE: Well, she told reporters after the fact that at the end of the day, she was, as she described herself, pro-life and that she felt it was important to vote for these measures despite their potentially politically damaging -- or politically unappealing appearance, if you will for future voters--
MITCHELL: Garrett, let me — let me just interrupt and say that pro-life is a term that they -- an entire group wants to use, but that is not an accurate description.
I grasp that Mitchell likely has a contractual obligation, either enumerated or implied, to hurl ideological red meat like this to MSNBC's core constituency. It's what the angry religionists on the Left demand of their media. But this type of pedantic label-policing is such a distracting sideshow, undoubtedly meant to divert attention from logical analysis of the issue.
Here's what I mean. It has long been an intentional strategy of progressives to dictate the language of the abortion debate. They have strained the art of euphemistic terminology to the point of embarrassment. From "pro-choice" to "reproductive freedom," "women's rights" to the corniest of all, "reproductive Justice," there is a fundamental refusal of abortion defenders to acknowledge what they promote.
While Mitchell can certainly make the argument that being "pro-life" must encompass more than just wanting human rights extended to include humans waiting to be born, is the same not true about being pro-choice?
One of the great ironies I have found as I've defended the human rights of preborn humans through the years is that I consistently seem to favor the pregnant woman being given more choices in her life than those who wear the label of choice.
- I believe in granting her the choice of her doctor.
- I believe in granting her the choice of school
- I believe in granting her the choice of how much salt she puts on her burger
- I believe in granting her the choice of how large her coke is at the village pantry
- I believe in granting her the choice of whether she cooks on a gas or electric stove
So while it's true that I do oppose granting any person a choice to extinguish the human rights of another sentient, distinct, unique human being for reasons of convenience (a position that rationally speaking should be universal and anything but controversial), it seems inappropriate and intellectually dishonest to pretend I oppose "choice" in general.
So I propose a compromise. How about we avoid these problematic labels altogether? I won't usurp the "life" label, conveying that those who disagree with me care nothing about life. In return, Andrea won't usurp the "choice" label conveying that I have some overarching problem with liberty.
Instead we will articulate with clarity precisely what we believe about the issue. We will eschew all labels and will explicitly define when we believe a human being gets human rights, as well as what conditions we believe must exist to suspend or deny those rights and why.
Any chance Andrea and the good folks at MSNBC are as eager to commit to this new approach as I am? And if not, what might that tell us about honesty in the abortion debate?