Bernie Sanders, the socialist Vermont senator running in the Democrat presidential primary, is a walking caricature in many ways, and recently he added abortion clichés to that reputation. On Saturday, he said:
It’s a popular slur among abortion supporters because it plays to modern radical feminism’s paranoia that misogynistic agents of the patriarchy lurk around every corner, waiting to chain America’s women to their kitchens, and because it reinforces the abortion lobby’s fantasy that abortion entails no serious moral dilemma they have to confront. But as a meaningful argument, it completely fails.
First, it ignores the real facts about abortion and why it’s controversial. If every single pro-lifer on the planet really was a sexist pig, it still wouldn’t change the objective fact that abortion kills living human beings, nor would it erase the laundry list of its related controversies, from abortion’s effects on women to Planned Parenthood’s various crimes and misdeeds. Facts are what they are, regardless of the messenger. It’s possible for good people to be mistaken and for bad people to be correct.
So congrats, Bernie! All you’ve proven is that you don’t like us. We’re still waiting for you to make the case that you’re correct to be pro-choice.
Second, rather than a chivalrous defense of women against an army of cads that want to take away their freedoms, it’s actually an astounding act of condescension to women. The fact remains that millions upon millions of women are passionately pro-life. Polling shows no consistent gender gap among pro-lifers and pro-choicers; in fact, some polls show that women are more pro-life than men on a number of aspects to the issue. And women hold so many leadership positions in pro-life organizations that opposition to abortion is arguably a movement driven and dominated by women.
Sanders’ comment doesn’t show respect for women as independent individuals who think for themselves and come to their own conclusions. It stereotypes them as having to conform to a hive mind. For Sanders to simply ignore pro-life women and pretend this is a battle of one sex against the other—to presume that he, a man, speaks for female America—is more sexist than anything mainstream pro-lifers have ever done. Indeed, it bears more than a passing resemblance to one of feminists’ own grievances: “mansplaining.”
Third, last time I checked, the whole point of gender equality was to affirm the equal dignity and rights of both men and women. But stuff like this shows that blatant sexism against men—which can range from arguing we don’t deserve a voice because we can’t get pregnant to grotesquely maligning the agony fathers feel when their sons and daughters are killed—is perfectly acceptable in the pro-abortion community.
As would be unnecessary to explain to more honorable, fair-minded opponents, “men would support abortion if they could get pregnant” is wildly unfair for two reasons. The first is that it’s a mass generalization painting men, without evidence, as ultimately selfish beings who cannot possibly be acting out of sincere compassion for the preborn. The second is that because men can’t get pregnant, there’s no way we can possibly disprove it—and therefore no objective means of determining its validity.
Notably, however, we do have the next best thing: many men do, in fact, offer to support the babies their partners want to abort. Countless testimonies from fathers grieving over their children they were powerless to save make clear they would step up and personally assume whatever burden was necessary to care for these children if they could.
Sanders’s willingness to pander to the lowest common denominator like this is a big part of his appeal—the fantasy promise that rabid, pro-abortion internet trolls would get a president just like them!—but it’s also why a majority of the people who share most of his principles are instead going with the more politically-astute, strategically-minded Hillary Clinton. In the case of abortion, however, both candidates are equally likely to toss out shameless smears against pro-lifers. It’s another reminder of how completely the abortion lobby holds the Democrat Party in its grip.