In response to the news that congressional Democrats are willing to fund pro-life Democratic candidates, feminist author Lindy West has written what may be the consummate latter-day pro-choice movement essay. Horrified at the thought that liberals might be even mildly flexible on the abortion question, West declares: “This issue represents everything Democrats purport to stand for…[T]o be anti-choice on a policy level is absolutely indefensible from an economic justice, racial justice, gender justice and human rights standpoint.”
“Abortion is not a fringe issue,” West writes. “Abortion is liberty.”
It’s not. It’s actually murder. But before we get to that, it is worth reflecting on the pro-choice movement’s development over the past few decades or so. Not very long ago, for instance, the general sentiment among even the more single-minded and unbending abortion advocates was that the practice should be “safe, legal and rare.” Hillary Clinton herself used to say she believed that.
In the run-up to the election that she eventually lost, however, Clinton dropped the “rare” qualifier. This change tracks closely with the harder elements of the pro-choice crowd. The abortion rights movement, as history professor Miles Smith has pointed out, has come to embrace “abortion as a positive good,” in much the same way that post-revolutionary American slavery partisans came to embrace slavery as a net benefit for American society.
It’s Not Something Regrettable to Phase Out Anymore
Where Clinton and those like her used to look upon abortion in something of the same way that George Washington used to look on slavery, today’s abortion advocates are more like John C. Calhoun, who believed slavery would continue to benefit the United States “if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition.”
Calhoun frankly admitted that he believed slavery formed “the most solid and durable foundation on which to rear free and stable political institutions.” It’s almost as if he was claiming, I don’t know… “Slavery is liberty.” Sound familiar?
We could make comparisons between the pro-slavery movement and the pro-abortion movement all day, and all would be fairly justifiable. But ultimately it is rather pointless, because in the end the most dedicated members of the pro-choice movement won’t listen to moral reasoning any more than Calhoun did. In the end we will not get very far at all without making abortion illegal. And we should make it illegal, because it’s murder.
Abortion Is a Moral Wrong. Full Stop
There is really no debating this—not at this late date, not with decades of scientific embryology and ever-more-precise methods of prenatal biological study, not when we know, as we have known for some time, that human beings are sui generis, genetically distinct and wholly actualized from the moment of conception onward, and that abortion kills those human beings.
Unfortunately, more than a few pro-lifers wish to avoid addressing this unpleasant reality, at least in the public rhetoric of the pro-life movement, afraid that pointing out the homicidal nature of abortion will “alienate” those we might otherwise convince. I am not sure what to make of this. Is our plan to lure potential pro-lifers with soft reasoning then, once they have come over to our side, spring the horrible truth about abortion on them? Nonsense. Let us be upfront and submit our facts to a candid world: abortion kills human beings.
It is, then, in effect the exact opposite of liberty: it is the negation of liberty, through violent means, perpetrated by strong humans onto weaker ones.
There is no point in being shy about it. The pro-choice movement, increasingly, is not shy about their own hardening beliefs: “There is no economic equality,” West writes, “without the ability to terminate a pregnancy.” A political movement that has built “economic equality” on the corpses of innocent human beings should, theoretically, be an easy one to defeat, both at the polls and in the moral conversation. Even the weakest and shyest pro-life apologist should be able to square off against a partisan like West, who equates killing children with “gender justice.”
“Come on, Democrats,” she writes. “Be something. Unite and move left.” It is a mark of our desperately sad and sick times that an activist’s call to “be something” is equitable with “stand up for a legal regime of legalized murder.” But that is what the pro-choice movement does. And pro-lifers must not be afraid to tear it down.