When Hillary Clinton was coming up, the assumption among abortion supporters was that it was the better of two bad decisions, the response to a mistake, and—while it should always be legal—inherently a bit sad. I’m 15 years younger than Hillary Clinton is, but still of a generation that when you heard a friend had had an abortion, your response was, “Oh, poor her—how is she doing?”
Today’s young feminists—as Hillary Clinton evidently understands—are determined to rid abortion of any lingering stigma, including the stigmatizing notion that it should be rare. They share their stories publicly and take part in a culture in which abortion is recognized and celebrated in stand-up comedy, television shows, movies. To someone outside their culture, all of this might seem, at best, unseemly, and at worst unfeeling. But they have not developed these sentiments in a vacuum. These women are fighting an equally intense anti-abortion culture, one that wants to instill shame in women as a means of reducing the number of abortions. The message of “rare” is not so different to them from the gruesome anti-abortion billboard or bumper sticker.
Whether they mean to or not, these young women are introducing a purity test where there shouldn’t be one: within the community of pro-abortion-rights voters. In this new calculus, true believers are welcome; anyone else can find the door. Like so much of progressive politics today, this approach ignores the specter of the “F-you vote,” the vote cast by people who are generally liberal but have had it up to here with being lectured about the incorrectness of their moral attitudes. The “F-you vote” was one of a hundred small factors that got Donald Trump elected last time.