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Colleen Carroll Campbell is talented: she can turn black into white. Campbell, a once-a-week columnist at the Post-Dispatch, spent this week’s column transforming the latest right wing legislative assault on abortion into a pro-choice document and pretending that those who oppose it are actually  anti-choice.

Abortion-rights activists frequently accuse their pro-life adversaries of simplistic thinking and ideological rigidity. That charge made more sense 30 years ago, when proponents of legalized abortion brazenly claimed the mantle of defending women while opponents of abortion focused their rhetoric on the rights of the unborn. But that allegation has not aged well. And it is taking a particular beating right now in Missouri, as the state Legislature debates the merits of a proposed ban on coerced abortions.

In one corner of this legislative fight are the supposed anti-choice simpletons: legislators like Rep. Cynthia Davis and Rep. Bryan Pratt, the sponsors of House Bills 46 and 434, and Sen. Rob Mayer, sponsor of the corresponding Senate Bill 264.

Let’s see whether they’re simpletons or not.

In their legislation, “coercion” covers a broad range of possibilities, from threatening to kill the baby if it’s born, stalking the pregnant mother, threatening to fire the woman or revoke her scholarship, all the way to being manipulative.

[D]oes anyone want to defend the right of abusive or manipulative boyfriends, husbands, parents, employers and coaches to bully a woman into aborting her child because her pregnancy inconveniences them?

That sounds like a reasonable question. Am I in favor of men threatening to kill babies if they’re not aborted? Ooh, tough choice. Let’s see, let’s see. … Of course not!

Am I favor of jailing a man for saying to a pregnant woman: “Honey, I think you should have an abortion. I’ll pay for an abortion, but I don’t want to be a father.” Is that an implicit threat of abandonment? And should we send him to prison for being a manipulative bastard? Ooh, let’s see, let’s see … You have to be kidding.

The bill makes no distinctions. All the possible variants of coercion that it lists are treated as being equally evil. Seems a little, well, simplistic.  

So sell the legislation as “choice” if you want to, Ms. Campbell, on account of how “educating” women–with junk science that claims abortions lead to breast cancer–makes their choice more meaningful:

The legislation also strengthens informed consent for a pregnant woman by mandating that she be offered an opportunity view an ultrasound of her baby before an abortion and requiring that she receive more complete information about alternatives to abortion.

Maybe you are in favor of some choices for women. That’s “maybe” with a very small “m”. But one thing is certain: you’re no fan of the Constitution and in particular of the First Amendment. When “Honey, I think you should have an abortion” becomes a felony, we might as well move to Afghanistan.

Oh, and by the way, the guy who allegedly advised an abortion might not have said it anyway. Unless he expressed his opinion on tape or before witnesses, how can anyone know whether he really said it or whether he’s just the victim of a pregnant woman who’s nursing some grudge? But in any case, expressing an opinion in favor of abortion is his constitutionally protected right to free speech. Think of me as an advocate of men’s rights.

And this lovely gloss of concern for women’s rights with which Campbell has painted herself turns as green as cheap jewelry anyway when you remember that this good Catholic woman espouses a religion that is a bulwark of sexism. Women may not be priests. Men run the whole shebang.

Admittedly, it’s inconvenient that I should point that out. It sort of ruins Campell’s whole Houdini-style presto chango act about who favors choice.

Not to mention exposing her as one of the simpletons.

Photo courtesy of the Post-Dispatch