This may sound strange, but I don’t consider myself a real abortion foe. I have friends and sparring partners who think abortions should be illegal or at least heavily restricted. To me, that’s the chief dividing line in the debate. I don’t feel comfortable crossing that line. I don’t think a regime of abortion restrictions enacted in the name of life would make this world a better place. I think it would cause a mess—hypocrisy, deceit, interrogations, amateur home surgery, moral crudity backed by the force of law—as ugly as any war fought in the name of peace.
When I say abortion is bad, I’m not saying it’s necessarily worse than bringing a child into the world in lousy circumstances. I’m saying it’s worse than avoiding unintended pregnancy in the first place. That’s why I keep pushing contraception.
This is, as far is at goes, unobjectionable, and it’s nice to have him state it so forcefully. But the problem is that Saletan generally frames legal-abortion-while-pushing-contraception is some sort of centrist alternative to the pro-choice position, while it is the pro-choice position. Even those of use who don’t think abortion is immoral think that minimizing unwanted pregnancies is a good thing. It’s opponents of abortion, not its supporters, who have undermined efforts to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
But, of course, he doesn’t end there — we also get Saletan the moralist:
If you cause an unintended pregnancy and an abortion because you didn’t want to wear a condom, you should be ashamed.
If Saletan thinks that abortion is immoral, that’s his privilege, although these broad-based claims are hard to square with complexities he identifies earlier. And at least the outrage here isn’t just directed against the woman who chooses to have the abortion. But one big problem here is that Saletan hasn’t just expressed his moral position on abortion — the pro-choice movement must encompass people who have moral issues with abortion but think it shouldn’t be criminalized — but has argued that shaming people who get abortions is a good pro-choice tactic, which makes no sense at all.
But, at least this time he spent more time discussing why criminalization wouldn’t work than in asserting that abortion is immoral — one small step for Saletan.