The strategy that seems to be at work in some of the pro-life responses to my attempts to a) make sense of the highly difficult abortion issue and b) understand how those views relate to the issue of voting, is to conflate all deviance from the standard pro-life position into the most extreme version of the pro-abortion view possible. What results is a kind of pro-life purism, either you are for us or you are against us. The pro-life position here means a) fetal life has the same value as life after birth, b) therefore all abortions are murders, c) Roe v. Wade was wrong, not because the Court failed to affirm the right of the fetus to life, but because it overstepped its boundaries and affirmed the right of the pregnant woman to privacy
d) the way to fight against abortion is to vote for Republican candidates, who will not only have a more restrictive executive abortion policy, but will nominate "strict constructionist" or "originalist: justices to the Supreme Court who will reverse Roe and empower states to enact abti-abortion legislation. Any skepticism about any of these propositions makes one a fellow traveler of Peter Singer and George Tiller.
But you can push pro-life purism even further. You can refuse to support anti-abortion legislation that leaves an exception for rape and incest. You won't save very many fetuses that way, but at least you'll keep your moral purity. I suppose if you follow the logic of "abortion is murder" to its logical conclusion, you would have to make abortion a capital crime and try both the pregnant mother and the abortion doctor for murder. I don't see any pro-lifers advocating that.
Now there are people who simply do not value fetal life. A good example would be the person I quoted who wrote a review of Pro-Life 101, who said that if the fetus is in the woman's body, she has the right to kill it, period, end of story,, and if there were a million people housed in his body, he would have the right to holocaust them. Or Barbara Ehrenreich, who said “The one regret I have about my own abortions is that they cost money that might otherwise have been spent on something more pleasurable, like taking the kids to movies and theme parks.”
And then there's Obama, whose pro-choice credentials have certainly been touted, and who has earned those creditials with some of his statements and actions, but has also said this:
"...I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that "mental distress" qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions."
Does this sound like someone who just loves to see fetuses die? And yes, I know about BAIPA, etc.
Strict pro-lifers are in the minority in America, and I think they always will be. However, pro-lifers, plus all the people who might recoil at abortion legislation but consider the loss of unborn life as genuinely tragic, constitute a majority in America. Sometimes the criminal aw is the best tool in response to a moral problem, and sometimes it isn't. There seem to be many things we can do to bring the number of abortions in America as close to zero as possible. Unfortunately, when you vote, you've got to consider all the issues. I am sure there were plenty of people who voted for Obama who held their noses when it came to his views on abortion. But if your overall political sympathies are closer to Obama than to McCain, I can't see holding your nose about everything else in order not to hold your nose on abortion.
Many people who are, strictly speaking, pro-choice, hate abortion. They want to see the number of abortions brought as close to zero as possible. To call them friends of baby-butchers is the triumph of ideology over common sense.