Abortion: A foundational human right and cause to celebrate?
By Bill Barnwell
Listening to pro-abortion politicians is always interesting. Former President Bill Clinton once said that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare." This type of language implies that abortion really isn't a great thing after all and that we should encourage less of them. In my own state of Michigan, two unimpressive candidates were battling it out in the governor's race. In televised debates and in her TV ads, Governor Jennifer Granholm said that while she is "personally opposed" to abortion she nonetheless supports a "woman's right to choose."
Very few are coming right out and saying, "I like abortion." But watching and listening to the pro-abortion crowd, including those who are "personally opposed," you'd think the right to get an abortion was the cornerstone to human liberty. If anything, there are few signs that pro-abortion supporters really want to see abortions become a "rare" occurrence.
First thing, legal abortion is a great political mobilizer for both sides in this debate. Christian Right groups would lose fundraising and emotional appeal if the abortion issue just went away. However, there are plenty of other "us vs. them" social issues that religious conservatives would be able to use to mobilize the troops. Most anti-abortion individuals are also pretty honest in the fact that they really would like to see abortions dramatically drop.
Could that honestly be said about the pro-abortion lobby, where so much fundraising and emotions are hinged to this very issue alone? If the abortion issue went away, both sides in the debate would probably not know what to do with themselves for awhile. The pro-abortion side, however, would lose even more and be without an equal Great Big Cause to whip up resentment amongst the masses.
Anti-abortion advocates are at least honest that they don't like abortion. They hold candlelight vigils where they tearfully pray for abortions to end. Conservative ministers preach serious sermons against the "Culture of Death." To the anti-abortion side, it's all a very sad affair.
Pro-abortionists, on the other hand, treat their political rallies like giant parties. Smiling people hold up signs that read "Pro-woman. Pro-choice" or "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries" amongst other cutesy slogans. Looking at pictures of pro-abortion rallies, they appear to be happy celebrations where everyone involved is proud of the realities of abortion.
The average person who has an abortion is not having them because they were raped or the victims of incest. Well over 90% are having abortions because they did not demonstrate enough personal responsibility to prevent a pregnancy, something that is not terribly difficult to do. This is not just irresponsibility on a female's part as most of the men involved either desert the female or encourage them to get an abortion (though more than a few never get to have a say in the matter).
Even granting that making abortion illegal won't solve the problem and/or that abortion is a necessary evil, pro-abortion supporters rarely treat it as a vice. Hardly any actually are referring to the behaviors that lead to an abortion as a problem that demands more accountability and responsibility. Handing out condoms to confused kids at abortion clinics and offering sex-ed classes in public schools are not producing much accountability or social stigma. Instead, it's cool, hip, and heroic to support abortion.
All libertarians and most other individuals believe that prohibition was ineffective and ultimately made the problems of alcohol abuse worse rather than better. Likewise, many who are "personally opposed to drug abuse" convincingly argue that the Drug War has done more harm than good. But as far as I know, most of these same people are not holding up junkies and drunks as model citizens. Not many are out marching arguing that the right to shoot up is a foundational human right. Rather, libertarians argue that while these things may be moral vices, they do not justify the tyranny of the Drug War. But few libertarians are out marching to make druggies, drunkards and people who sit on their couch all day eating Twinkees as role models and heroes. Besides, as I've argued in a previous piece, there is nothing that is libertarian about getting an abortion.
In reality, like all moral issues, laws are never a final solution to the problem. Even if, as I believe, that the legal and moral case for abortion is weak, pro-abortionists are correct that the issue would not go away if states outlawed the practice. They are also correct that people would seek abortions anyway through some sort of black market or dangerous procedures. First though, this alone does not mean that anti-abortionists should give up pointing out the legal absurdities of pro-abortion judicial cases. Second, if the pro-abortion lobby is really concerned about making the practice "rare" then they should stop acting as if abortion is a wonderful human right and respectable option for typically irresponsible couples.
Pro-abortionists further muddy the waters with their warm and fuzzy buzzwords. While they march, cheer, and scream for government approved abortions, their mainstream media mouthpieces are typically afraid to come right out and say that they are pro-abortion. Instead they are "pro-choice." Every good civilized person likes to be able to make decisions, right? In the pro-abortion definition of things, having an abortion is no different than deciding where you want to eat dinner or what outfit you want to wear for the day.
Why not just come out and say "pro-abortion?" What's wrong with having the courage of your convictions? Pro means "in favor" and abortion is what is in question. Therefore, if you see nothing morally or legally wrong with having an abortion, and you happily go out and march for the cause, you are pro-abortion, right?
Likewise, the media occasionally refer to anti-abortionists as "anti-choice." More often than not, however, they are described as "pro-life." It's extreme though, to call the other side, "pro-death." Why is that? If one side is in favor of "life" wouldn't the opposite side be in favor of "death?" If one has a problem with that, how about just dropping the buzzwords and slogans altogether and sticking to the issue at hand: whether or not one is pro-abortion or anti-abortion.
If one objects and says that "anti-abortion" is a dishonest term since what pro-abortionists really are supporting is "choice" then I happily ask them to become a part of the libertarian movement. "Pro-choicers" would then be able to apply their doctrine of libertarian freedom to a host of other issues where they are more often than not toeing an authoritarian party line.
As things now stand, abortion isn't getting much rarer. There has been a slight drop according to some figures, but nothing incredibly substantial. If pro-abortionists want to make abortion rare then they will need to take a stronger stand for personal responsibility and good values. If pro-abortionists actually do want to limit abortions, then they have to create a climate where the practice is discouraged and not celebrated.
All this implies pro-abortionists actually don't like abortion and really do consider it a sad and necessary evil. Actions speak louder than words, but both the actions and most the words from the pro-abortion lobby indicate they have no real problem with abortion. Not only that many pro-abortionists apparently want to see the practice indefinitely perpetuated in the future.
You cannot argue on one hand that abortion is regrettable, but on the other hand that it is a great political and moral virtue. The duplicity of the pro-abortion movement aids neither the cause of liberty nor the cause of responsibility. And it certainly isn't leading to significantly fewer abortions. All this makes one wonder just what the in the world the definition of "rare" is to the pro-abortion lobby.
Bill Barnwell [send him mail] is a pastor and writer from Michigan. He holds both a Master of Ministry degree and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. Visit and comment on this article at his blog.