Ross Douthat’s latest post on Knocked Up is just plain bizarre. Responding to Dana Stevens, who raised the completely reasonable point that it’s unlikely that an upwardly mobile 20-something woman knocked up by a total loser would not get an abortion, he says the following:
[I]t’s very clear, in the context of the film’s script, why Katherine decides to keep the baby – because abortion is a really horrible thing to do, and only a buffoon (Ben’s friend) or a hissable villain (Katherine’s Mom, who tells her to wait till she’s ready to have a “real baby”) would tell someone to get one. I have no idea where Judd Apatow stands on the politics of abortion – if I had to guess, I’d say he’s probably a Saletan-style “it’s bad, but it has to be legal” type – but as far as the morality of the procedure goes, Knocked Up is almost naively pro-life: Of course Katherine decided to “keep” the baby, the script suggests, because killing it would be terribly and obviously wrong, and she’s not a bad person.
Ignoring Douthat’s odd attempt to discern public policy prescriptions from a sex comedy, this is just wrong. I seriously doubt Apatow thinks that abortion is “terribly and obviously wrong” or “a really horrible thing to do” because no one to the left of Tom Coburn thinks it is. Douthat certainly doesn’t; he thinks abortion should be legal in cases of rape. One simply can’t believe that life begins at conception and that abortion is morally wrong while believing that it’s acceptable to abort a product of rape; the only reason for banning abortion with that exception is a misogynistic, patriarchal desire to force women to be “responsible” without any similar requirements on men. This position is idiotic and easily refuted, but it has nothing to do with morality. Moreover, if abortion were “terribly and obviously wrong,” we wouldn’t have Roe vs. Wade or the abortion debate in general, all abortions except those to save the mother’s life would be banned, and the women and doctors involved in them would be sent to jail. However, abortion is not “obviously wrong,” or even wrong at all. Hence, we’re not living in Gilead. Which is a very good thing.