Pollitt aims her book at the “muddled middle” who have been infected by the awfulization without thinking about it that much. To win them back she’s crafted a lengthy Socratic response dissecting the contradictions on the pro-life side. If you know Pollitt’s writing at all, it’s no surprise what she believes. But by the end of the book, it’s a surprise to realize that while the fight over abortion has been going on for more than 40 years, we’ve all forgotten what’s at stake. The left especially has lost sight of its original animating purpose.
In 2012 when the Susan G Komen Foundation pulled funding from Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood responded by explaining that 90 percent of what it does is preventive care. Many writers sympathetic to Planned Parenthood repeated that line (including in Slate) without realizing how defensive it sounded. In the years since Roe v. Wade, in fact, the left has time and again signaled retreat—a point my colleague Will Saletan also emphasizes in his 2004 book, Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War. “Safe, legal and rare,” “Permit but discourage”—these updated slogans have left the pro-choice side advocating the neurotic position that you can have an abortion but only if you feel “really really bad about it,” Pollitt writes.
As Pollitt puts it, “This is not the right time for me” should be reason enough to have an abortion.