Abortion is becoming a losing issue for the Left. The current crop of congressional Democrats are vehemently opposed to regulating abortion while more than half of Americans believe in enacting at least some restrictions on the right to legally kill unborn children. Since the deck is stacked so strongly against pro-abortion legislation, you’d expect Democrats to back down on the issue, at least a bit.
Yet this has not been the case, and in their desperation liberals have in recent months begun highlighting one of the most difficult aspects of the debate, stressing the alleged necessity of abortion in the instances of pregnancy that result from rape.
Using Rape Victims as Political Pawns
Last month, liberals snagged an anti-sex trafficking bill in Congress due to a Hyde Amendment-style provision that would have forbade any public funding of abortions for sex-trafficking victims. Democrats, in thrall to a powerful and relentless abortion lobby, claimed that the provision was “snuck in” without their knowledge, and the media gleefully reported this as true.
This month, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Access League (NARAL) released a television ad that will run in several states. It accuses several Republican senators of refusing to support the anti-sex trafficking law “unless survivors are denied access to abortion care.” The ad implores viewers to call their senators and “tell [them] it’s wrong to use survivors as political pawns.”
This is a false and fraudulent accusation. It is Democrats who are perfectly happy to use sex-trafficking victims as “political pawns,” opposing an anti-sex trafficking law to ingratiate themselves to the insatiable abortion lobby. If liberals in Congress can satisfy the likes of NARAL at the expense of victims of the sex trade, they’ll do so. This is both a personal and a political tragedy: the casualties of sadistic barbarity have become the tools of a group of elected cowards, and the worst and most baffling part is that the cowards will almost certainly be elected again despite their craven gambit.
One Crime Doesn’t Legitimize Another
Still more tragic is the personal history of Teresa Fedor, a member of the Ohio House of Representatives who recently voiced her opposition to Ohio’s “heartbeat” bill, which would ban abortions upon the detection of the baby’s heartbeat, with no exceptions in cases of incest or rape. Fedor stood up to point out that she had been raped more than three decades ago, had become pregnant, and had subsequently had an abortion. As she told the House:
You don’t respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice. What you’re doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I’ve sat here too long. I dare any one of you to judge me, because there’s only one judge I’m going to face.
I dare you to walk in my shoes. This debate is purely political. I understand your story, but you don’t understand mine. I’m grateful for that freedom. It is a personal decision, and how dare government get into my business.
Fedor’s “dare,” of course, is entirely rhetorical, as we cannot walk in her shoes, and furthermore none of us has any desire to, her experience being uniquely awful. Yet her argument is not unassailable. Although her story rightfully elicits a tremendous amount of empathy, and we are surely not to judge her in the same manner as God will, we must not be afraid to point out that she is wrong, and that the choice to abort her child was in fact the wrong one.
Both NARAL and Fedor are working from the assumption that one crime unequivocally legitimates another: in this case, that rape justifies executing an unborn human being. When abortion advocates speak of carving out exemptions for rape, they are claiming that a human conceived in rape is necessarily inferior to, and less worthy of life than, a human conceived by consensual sex.
Plainly, this cannot be the case. A human being’s intrinsic worth is defined not by the circumstances of his conception but by the essence of his being. Hippolytus in the third century condemned the murder of unborn children who had been conceived “either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of [the woman’s] family and excessive wealth.” This is not to say that rape and ignominious adultery are morally equivalent; only that the children that issue from both circumstances are morally equivalent to any other child, and are as deserving of life as any other.
Mass Murder Is Not a Private Matter
Fedor’s impassioned speech, in other words, is in a certain sense immaterial to the larger matter at hand: the question isn’t whether Fedor had an abortion after being raped, but whether it was wrong for her to do so. If abortion is wrong—and it assuredly is—then so is abortion in cases of rape.
We can most definitely empathize with a rape victim who chooses abortion, but we most definitely do not have to condone her behavior; we can understand why she felt she had to make such a brutal choice without agreeing that it was the right choice to make. Fedor should not be shamed or castigated for the difficult position she was in decades ago—yet neither should she have our approval or our capitulation in this matter. Civilized people do not approve of murdered babies or capitulate in the face of legalized infanticide.
The abortion lobby has made great strides in trying to convince the American public that abortion is a matter of “reproductive rights.” This is a fallacy, of course; reproduction has already occurred by the time an abortion takes place, and so the matter is not one of reproduction but destruction. Abortion is a savage, terrible thing, and it should be illegal. The care, compassion, concern and assistance we give to victims of sex trafficking, and victims of rape such as Fedor, cannot obscure the facts of the matter. If the Left wishes to devalue a human life because of the way it was conceived, so be it. But Fedor is wrong: it is not a “personal decision.” It is without a doubt a public matter. The mass murder of innocent people always is.