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August 15, 2014 3:26 PM Hammer Meets Nail

By Ed Kilgore

I had somehow missed the claim made earlier this week by an anti-choice advocate that Robin Williams’ suicide was caused by legalized abortion. Amanda Marcotte has the bizarre story at RHRealityCheck:

Sometimes when I think we’ve hit the limit on what anti-choicers will try to link to their single-minded obsession with policing women’s sexual choices, someone will surprise me with a new low. Kevin Burke drew the card this week with a repugnant attempt to blame the suicide of comedian and actor Robin Williams Monday on, you guessed it, abortion. The article was at LifeNews.com but, unsurprisingly, was taken down when the negative feedback started. Unluckily for them, Talking Points Memo has some of the details and Burke still has the same writing up at the Priests for Life blog.
In the article, Burke focuses on the fact that Williams had a girlfriend in the 1970s that had an abortion, which Williams brought up in a Playboy interview in 1992. From this information, Burke wildly speculates that pretty much every sad or bad thing that happened to Williams was because of this abortion. He starts by blaming the end of Wiliiams’ relationship on the abortion, arguing, “Few relationships survive the complex emotional pain and complicated grief that naturally follows the decision to abort one’s unborn child.” He goes on to speculate that Williams struggled with addiction and depression because of abortion.
The fact that Williams was unabashedly pro-choice is also rationalized away in a nasty manner: “The energy that would be better directed toward healing this loss is instead focused on the need to promote abortion accessibility for the poor and protecting woman’s health.” I love how he holds it out as self-evident that there’s something wrong with a person—they must be stifling their true feelings!—if they care about the well-being of women, particularly low-income women.

Marcotte goes on to note that this sort of obsessive mendacity is a lamentably regular feature in the antichoice movement. So, too, are specious efforts to link abortion with mental health issues. Indeed, alleged solicitude for the sensibilities of weak women worked its way into a very important Supreme Court decision back in 2007 via Justice Kennedy’s paternalistic approach to protecting the “health” of the poor dears by denying them reproductive rights. As Marcotte concludes:

It’s not just hurtful to women who have abortions. It also treats mental illness like it’s some kind of punishment doled out to people who don’t make choices that religious fanatics want them to make. You can call that “pro-life” if you want to, but in reality, it’s just mean-spirited and cruel.

But when you are a “hammer” fighting the great American “holocaust” of legalized abortion, every tactic is permissable. And every issue—even mental health—is a nail.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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