During Hillary Clinton’s recent appearance on ABC’s “The View,” co-host Paula Faris asked the presidential candidate about her assertion that an unborn person has no constitutional rights. Clinton, never missing an opportunity to proclaim her commitment to restriction-free abortion on demand, responded with the following words:
“Under our law that is the case, Paula. I support Roe versus Wade because I think it is an important — an important statement about the importance of a woman making this most difficult decision with consultation by whom she chooses: her doctor, her faith, her family. And under the law and under certainly that decision, that is the way we structure it.”
Clinton’s response was, of course, hardly surprising, as pro-choice politicians have spent a few decades labeling abortion a “difficult decision” to derail any conservative attempts to limit access to it, because everyone knows that government bureaucrats are woefully unqualified to make difficult decisions for you. Well, government bureaucrats are perfectly capable of deciding for you that providing flowers for a gay couple’s wedding doesn’t violate your religious beliefs, but everyone knows that once “difficult decisions” migrate from the heart down to the uterus, government bureaucrats can no longer be trusted.
Why Is Abortion a Difficult Decision?
What was also unsurprising about this exchange on “The View” was that Faris neglected to parse Clinton’s response. The “difficult decision” verbiage is, after all, rather par for the political course at this point, so it’s understandable that your average journalist wouldn’t try to discover something new hidden in a phrase that’s been tossed around approximately eleventy billion times since 1973.
But within the heart of that phrase dwells a monstrously self-defeating implication that ought to be obvious to any journalist striving for a modicum of objectivity. Therefore, as a challenge to any journalist desiring to cover the abortion issue fairly, I beg they ask Clinton or any other politician who tosses out the “abortion is a difficult decision” line the following question: Why is abortion a difficult decision?
After all, the difficulty spoken of here is obviously one of a moral nature, and most medical procedures are not steeped in moral difficulty. They may be difficult in the sense that you are afraid to undergo them, but they’re not difficult from a right versus wrong perspective. A woman may ask her priest to pray with her before undergoing an appendectomy out of fear, for example, but she’s not going to ask him to pray with her out of guilt for expelling the inflamed organ from her digestive system. Likewise, no woman lays awake the night before cancer treatment wondering if she’ll be guilty of a mortal sin for letting doctors kill her tumor with radiation.
So if abortion is just a medical procedure not substantially different from these procedures, why is it a difficult decision? If the thing that a woman is having removed from her body is just a clump of her own cells, less essential to her health than the tonsils or gall bladder she’s already had yanked out, what’s the big deal with removing some unwanted goo from her uterus?
Surely Hillary Clinton would find it silly if a woman broke down in tears telling her husband or pastor that she has an abscess molar and needs his help deciding whether it’s right for her to get it removed. So what makes abortion so different? Why is abortion a difficult decision?
It’s Difficult Because We Don’t Want to Kill People
The answer is obvious. Abortion is a difficult decision because this medical procedure results in a dead baby. Choosing to have an abortion is morally difficult because a woman has to weigh her desire not to give birth to a child with her desire not to kill the child that she’s already conceived. When a teenage girl is terrified of her parents’ anger and rejection, abortion is a heart-wrenching decision to consider because it promises to take away her fear, but only at the cost of ending the innocent life in her womb. When a young woman is filled with sorrow as she considers having to put her education or career on hold due to an unexpected pregnancy, abortion is a heavy thing to consider because, while it promises to give her back the life she wanted to make for herself, it also charges a price for that freedom that her conscience will never be able to pay off.
Quite simply, when Hillary Clinton labels abortion “difficult,” she concedes almost every argument of the pro-life movement—that life begins at conception, that abortion takes an innocent human life, that taking innocent human life is wrong, and that guilt is the natural result of sinning so greatly against our most vulnerable neighbor. The only pro-life argument Clinton refuses to concede, of course, is the conclusion—namely that, for the sake of both women and their unborn children, abortion should be illegal.
But as I’ve argued before, defending the legality of abortion while acknowledging its moral indefensibility is ultimately an untenable position, and those who are firmly committed to their respective sides in the abortion debate will not tolerate rhetoric that erodes their positions from the politicians who are supposed to be on their side, as evidenced by the response to Clinton’s original comments from many on the Left who recognize that there’s only so long you can concede that the unborn are persons before you can’t justify keeping it legal to tear their bodies apart in the womb.
Maybe Hillary Clinton Really Wants to Celebrate Abortion
So no matter where journalists stand on Roe v. Wade, it would benefit everyone for them to mine the words “abortion is a difficult decision,” that standard little phrase Clinton and others always use to justify abortion. The American people, after all, have the right to choose their next president, but we can only make an informed decision if journalists ask the questions we don’t have the opportunity to ask, and get the answers we desperately need.
So ask. “Why is abortion a difficult decision? Is it because abortion takes an innocent human life? Is that what you believe is happening?”
I’d be very interested in hearing Clinton’s response. Since she’s a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, I’d imagine Clinton would initially hem and haw about these questions being above her pay grade before being told to adopt the more stable position that abortion is not something sad that we allow but something empowering that we celebrate, a position that would make it much easier for voters to understand her position on the issue and consider how well it represents their own.
But, then again, perhaps she’d surprise me. Perhaps if caught flat-footed on national television, perhaps if forced to see the implicit pro-life concessions in her phrasing without her handlers being able to whisper them away in her ear, Clinton could have the scales fall from her eyes and see that choosing to have an abortion is a difficult decision because the thing being aborted is a living, human child who deserves to be treated with dignity and love and doesn’t deserve to die simply for the crime of being inconvenient.
Perhaps in that moment, Clinton could see that the reason abortion fills women’s hearts with difficult emotions is because those women feel they have no option but to take a life that neither they nor God wants to see taken. Perhaps if asked to explain why abortion is morally problematic, Clinton’s devotion to scripted answers would give way to an overwhelming desire to be honest and she’d concede, “You know what, maybe I’ve been wrong. Maybe if abortion is such a difficult decision, it shouldn’t be completely unrestricted. Maybe, as I did with gay marriage, I need to reevaluate my position.”
Granted, I know that expecting a career politician to have an ideological conversion on live television is rather foolish. But, just like an unborn person who has no constitutionally protected right to life in Clinton’s eyes, I can always dream.