Last week, the Wisconsin Assembly debated a bill that would make it illegal for state insurance plans to pay for abortions. Assembly Bill 128 contains exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.
During the course of the debate, Rep. Scott Allen took to the stand to offer his thoughts on why state insurance plans should not be permitted to provide coverage for elective abortion. Given this opportunity to explain why the state has a compelling interest in protecting the lives of the most vulnerable, here is what Allen had to say:
Labor force shortages are tied to population declines. And labor force shortages are a limiting factor in economic growth. And limited economic growth poses a problem when government tries to pay for public services and infrastructure. In spite of this … the Democrats continue their effort to support the abortion industry.
Allen is pointing out that abortion is bad for the state because it takes the lives of human beings who would otherwise eventually grow up, join the workforce, pay taxes, and help fund things. Thus, the state should prohibit coverage for elective abortion because the state has a compelling interest that these people grow up to be contributing members of society.
In defense of Allen, it’s clear that he is speaking only to what is in the best interests of the state of Wisconsin. I don’t believe that he is attempting to make a moral argument against abortion or explain why abortion should be illegal. Nevertheless, instead of explaining why the state has a compelling reason to protect innocent human life because it’s innocent human life and the state has no business advocating for or promoting its demise, he chose to speak about potential benefit to the economy.
This Generated Outrage, Some of It Deserved
Predictably, his comments caught the attention of lots of people and organizations that were not overly pleased. NARAL was the first to take notice and tweeted their disgust. The Huffington Post published a column claiming Allen had just compared women to incubators who exist to churn out babies who will eventually benefit the state financially. Far-left Bustle was also unhappy.
New York Times columnist Lindy West, of #shoutyourabortion fame, echoed the incubator thought in a column describing how angry women are: “We are expected to sit quietly as men debate whether or not the state should be allowed to forcibly use our bodies as incubators. We are expected to not complain as we are diminished, degraded and discredited.”
The cries of anguish from the Left are not totally uncalled for. Allen’s comments divert attention from the beauty of preborn human life, pregnancy, and motherhood and point to a view of women as being at the service of the state. Many commenters were dismayed that his comments seemed eerily similar to the plotline of “A Handmaid’s Tale,” and while that seems a bit hyperbolic, his reasoning did put him in a position to receive this response. Furthermore, if abortion were truly nothing more than an economic issue, women would be rightfully angry when access to it were limited. But abortion is far more than merely an economic issue.
Indeed, diminishing the conversation about abortion to an economic issue is a tactic of the Left. Pro-life advocates ought not fall into the trap of reducing abortion to anything other than a massive human rights violation. The fact that abortion is a human rights violation is precisely why the state has a deeply compelling interest in prohibiting and limiting access to it. It has nothing to do with the future labor force, nothing to do with infrastructure, and nothing to do with economics.
We Don’t Protect Life to Save Money
To claim that it does is a weak pro-life argument. It leaves behind the beauty and biology of preborn human life and embraces a cold, calculated look at the preborn child. It reduces preborn children to a dollar amount and assigns value based on how much they may be able to contribute to society.
But dollar amounts and economic forces do not constitute any part of the reason why the lives of preborn human beings should be protected. We don’t protect the lives of any other human beings due to their potential economic advantage, and it certainly should not be any different for those human beings who are not yet born. Their lives should be protected because they are human beings.
Further, cold, calculated arguments that neglect the beauty of preborn human beings are not going to change the minds of just about anyone. People are far more strongly drawn to truth and beauty, two things that pro-life advocates invariably have on their side. Abortion is ugly. There is no reason to neglect the truth and beauty of the pro-life position to make an economic argument. The switch from abortion as a human rights violation to abortion as an economic issue dramatically and unnecessarily weakens the pro-life cause and undermines the reasons abortion should be illegal and insurance companies have no business covering it.
Framing the abortion discussion as an economic issue does very little to help abortion advocates, and even less to help the pro-life cause. Making the case against abortion is fairly easy, even if many progressives refuse to buy in or see the logic. The truth is on the side of life. Human life starts at conception. Abortion destroys innocent human life. It’s the state’s job to protect human rights. The state should protect the rights of preborn human beings because protecting rights is the responsibility of the state.
Making Bad Arguments Is Counterproductive
Making poor arguments against abortion fuels the fire already burning on the Left against those who oppose abortion. Many of them already believe that Republicans hate women, and incidents like this only serve to reinforce those beliefs. The Left will grasp at any opportunity it can to show how uncaring and malicious they think Republicans and pro-life advocates are. Giving them opportunities such as this only fuels the fire and ultimately accomplishes nothing other than inciting outrage from abortion supporters.
Make no mistake, abortion supporters need this outrage to advance their cause. There are no good or logical arguments for elective abortion. All arguments in support of elective abortion end with the death of an innocent human being. An ideology that defends the taking of millions of innocent human lives has no legs to stand on. As our understanding of fetal biology and preborn human life continues to grow, the ideology should ultimately collapse under the weight of its own callous, illogical malevolence. Blatant disregard for the value of human life does not have the power to attract many new adherents on its own merits.
On the other hand, what does have the power to attract new adherents is when abortion advocates can point the finger at their opposition and say, “See how they despise us. See how they want to use us. See how they are reducing our womanhood to our ability to bear children.” Nobody wants to be associated with an agenda such as that, and abortion supporters jump on any opportunity to cast pro-life individuals in this light.
We Don’t Need Economic Arguments to Decimate Abortion
Giving abortion advocates the ammo they need to sway minds hurts the pro-life cause. While Allen certainly meant well, his comments missed the mark this time. It’s not the job of women to bear a workforce, and I imagine that most women don’t want to hear about how it is. While there is truth to the idea that abortion diminishes the prospective workforce, that has nothing to do with why it is wrong or should be prohibited or even why the state has a compelling interest in prohibiting insurance companies from covering it.
People who engage regularly in dialogue about abortion would do well to learn a lesson from this. Abortion supporters want to make abortion an economic issue to hide how brutal and inhumane it is.
Those who oppose abortion do not need to do that. Pro-life advocates know that abortion is not an economic issue, it is a moral issue. It is an equality issue. It is a human rights issue. If pro-life advocates want to demonstrate why abortion is wrong, we can just point to the human being growing in the womb and make the case that his or her right to life should be equal to our own. This is why the state has a compelling interest in prohibiting insurance companies from paying for it.
Diverting attention from this point only undermines the cause, weakens the argument, and makes abortion advocates seething mad.