Kevin Williamson, as you may have heard, was deprived of his inalienable right to troll the audience of his choice in the venue of his choice. He then refused to answer Ed Kilgore’s question about what sanctions he believes should be applied to women who get abortions, if his assertion that they should be hanged was not actually serious. He was then silenced by the Weekly Standard, where he whined about the violation of his inalienable right to have an essay published at any forum where a reporter asks him a question, rather than providing his surely unanswerable argument for criminalizing abortion. Now, he’s being silenced by the Washington Post, where he reaches for some reheated canard confit:
For some people, even to ask the question brings up dystopian images, from “The Handmaid’s Tale” to the Taliban. To me, a better model than the imaginary Gilead is the real world’s France.
France, like many European countries, takes a stricter line on abortion than does the United States: Abortion on demand is permitted only through the 12th week of pregnancy. After that, abortion is severely restricted, permitted only to prevent grave damage to the mother’s health, or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities. France is not a neo-medieval right-wing dystopia.
OK, sure, let’s try France’s abortion regime! I’m glad to see Williamson endorsing free abortions being made available to women at any hospital, and making first trimester abortions unregulated!
We’ve been through this before on multiple occasions , but this move of abstracting one particular formal aspect of a European abortion law while ignoring the broader political and cultural context is useless and misleading argument. (Cf. also “Singapore uses private savings accounts!”) A 12-week limit obviously functions very differently in a country where free safe abortions are easily available and a country where many states are making it enormously difficult for many women to obtain abortions. And how often are women who ask for abortions after 12 weeks in France actually denied them?
And also note that there’s no affirmative case being made here. Why is 12 weeks a better standard than viability? If we’re no conceding the obvious fact that abortion isn’t murder, why have an arbitrary term cutoff at all? If abortions are much more moral in the first trimester, why do conservatives favor erecting an arbitrary regulatory obstacle course? Will we ever get answers to these questions? Of course not. Mention France to OWN THE LIBS, an then move on to another prominent venue to complain about how your ideas can’t get a public hearing.