William Saletan of Slate recently proposed some new rhetoric for abortion-choice politicians to use when they are debating pro-lifers. His proposal is as follows: “My opponent and I both want to avoid as many abortions as possible. The difference is, I trust women to work with me toward that objective, and he doesn’t.”

Pretty good! It makes the abortion-choice candidate look sympathetic to the pro-life and abortion-choice side, all the while making the pro-life candidate look like someone who does not trust people to make their own choices. But there are some serious logical problems with this approach.

First, if you truly want to avoid as many abortions as possible then the ultimate goal should be to eliminate all abortions. Why? Because abortion is unnecessary, making it possible to eliminate the procedure altogether. One might argue that some abortions are necessary, particularly when the mother’s life is at stake. I can accept that qualification, but since that situation accounts for less than a fraction of 1% of all abortions we’re still talking about the real possibility of eliminating more than 99.9% of all abortions. Does the abortion-choice candidate truly want to eliminate 99.9% of all abortions? I highly doubt it. I would advise a pro-life candidate to call his opponent on this. Make him say he wishes to eliminate all elective abortions. I’ll guarantee he won’t do it.

Secondly, if you want to avoid as many abortions as possible, and you know there are women out there who are opposed to your desire, why would you trust them to work toward your objective? If you desired to save more Jews during the Holocaust, would you say the difference between you and the Allies is that you trusted the Nazis to work with you toward that objective while they did not? Of course not! How about murder? Would anyone say the difference between them and their opponent is that they trust murderers to work with them to eliminate murder while their opponent does not? Of course not! Then how can we trust women who want to murder their babies to work with us to avoid abortion? We can’t. We must legislate morality on them just as we do in every other area of the law.

So much for Saletan’s new rhetoric!