When Michelle Williams clasped her Golden Globe this weekend and glided into a seemingly scripted love letter to obliterating babies, she provided easy fodder for both sides of the abortion debate.
The outrage from the pro-life community is fitting. To watch a celebrity praise her own privilege—belonging not only to the affluent Hollywood class but also to a powerful majority group (born humans) stomping on the weak minority (unwanted preborn human beings)—is beyond nauseating.
But, stomach-churning and infuriating as it was, we nevertheless needed this moment.
Michelle Williams did what no pro-lifer could do. She seized a national stage and cut through the emotional posturing of abortion advocacy to reveal its hollow, egotistical core. Indeed, her speech was not about rape, the life of the mother, or other seemingly complex circumstances thrown at pro-lifers. Rather, for Williams, the fight over abortion boiled down to one simple phrase.
The Heart: Self-Interest
“Women, 18 to 118,” she proclaimed in the climax to her impassioned acclamation of abortion, “when it is time to vote, please do so in your own self-interest.”
Here Williams revealed the veritable heart of abortion advocacy. She felt no need to provide a horror story of rape or incest to sweep the crowd into acknowledging abortion as some undesirable yet necessary evil. Rather, she asserted this is what women want. It’s in their own interest. And what women want, women should get. No questions asked.
This comes as no surprise to those standing on sidewalks and college campuses engaged in dialogue on abortion. We have known for decades that those shouting “What about rape?” are often using real women’s real horror stories as presumed trump cards to shut down conversation. Hiding behind the smokescreen is almost always someone who wants it to be legal all the time, for nearly any reason—not just following sexual assault—to dismember a person smaller than us.
But we needed Williams to demonstrate this inconvenient truth to the culture. And demonstrate it, she did.
“I’ve tried my very best to live a life of my own making,” she declared, “and not just a series of events that happened to me, but one that I could stand back and look at and recognize my handwriting all over . . . one that I had carved with my own hand.”
According to Williams, the ideal existence is a self-directed life, one of autonomy. Clutching the statue, her implication was clear. She had reached that great height and was justified in therefore presenting herself as the model.
And to what did she owe the honor? She explained, “And I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose.”
The Pro-Abortion American Dream
It is no surprise Williams refrained from naming what she wants women to be able to choose. Abortion advocates still struggle to muster enough fortitude to mention by name in public what they want the public to celebrate. Nevertheless, like many of the gowns on display when the 1% gather to preen and praise themselves, her speech was still far too revealing.
Williams did not present a plea for women clawing their ways through proverbial back allies to find a solution for exceptional burdens. Neither did she follow Tulsi Gabbard’s faux pas of resurrecting the old Clinton line of abortion being “safe, legal, and rare.” Instead, Michelle Williams established abortion as a rite of passage for the ideal life of freedom and agency.
Those watching this glamorous woman present her life as ideal and owe her success to abortion were therefore issued a guide not only for voting but also for achieving her version of the American Dream—one in which you trample those in your way to get what you want, epitomized by Williams’s march over broken preborn bodies to claim the gilded statue in her hands.
The Heel: Parental Responsibility
But there’s another reason we needed this moment. Williams revealed not only the heart of abortion advocacy but also its Achilles’ heel.
After establishing abortion as a sacrament of the self-directed life, Williams gave her own definition thereof: “The right to choose when to have my children and with whom.” But then there was a shocking blink-and-you’ll-miss-it line: “Knowing, as all mothers know, that the scales must and will tip towards our children.”
In the middle of Williams’s accolade of abortion and autonomy, this line sticks out like recording artist Joy Villa’s anti-abortion dress at last year’s Emmy Awards.
The scales must tip towards our children? Williams seemed here to side, for one brief second, with those who oppose abortion—not in her conclusion but rather in bedrock principles. Indeed, like us, she seemed to acknowledge parental responsibility.
There is thus a question every pro-life person should pose to Williams and those fawning over her speech on social media: Why should the scales tip towards our born children?
If the ideal life is one of total autonomy without regard for those in our way, why should mothers or fathers accept limits placed on them by born children? Why not dispense with the burdens of parenting toddlers, for example, by having them dismembered?
Perhaps Williams knows what we know—that there should be limits to autonomy.
But if such limits are legitimate, and if it would be wrong for parents to kill their toddlers, why is it permissible to intentionally kill the same child when she’s younger?
Silver and Gold
For all the hypocrisy and celebration of injustice inherent to Williams’s speech, there is therefore a glimmer of hope. Williams may be the new abortion defender du jour, but even she seems to know that parents have responsibilities—that the scales not only will but also should tip toward their children.
This provides an excellent opportunity for pro-life individuals to launch meaningful conversations: Is the ideal life truly one of total autonomy? What responsibilities do parents have toward their children?
And: Is the fetus killed in abortion a human being?
Williams did what we could not—placing abortion on center stage at the Golden Globes. Now it is up to us to do what she will not. We must seize on the common ground of parental responsibility to move the conversation forward.
After all, Williams may have the Golden Globe, but her speech has come with an interesting silver lining.
It is up to us not to let this opportunity pass.