Look Out, Pro-Choicers, You’re in Danger
From other pro-choicers — including yourselves
Pro-choicers don’t see the quite possibly fatal flaw in their idea: They’ve established a principle someone someday may use against them. It could literally a fatal flaw. Do they see that? No. They don’t look ahead. Pro-choicers assume they’ll be okay because they’ve been okay so far. What could go wrong?
Which is, I would say, unwise.
The Honest Pro-Choicers
I say this partly because pro-choicers have been getting more honest about what they think. Mostly gone is the original pro-abortion language of agonizing decisions and tragic necessities. Now, some defend abortion almost with a shrug.
The journalist Alexandra DeSanctis has been tracking this. For those of you who watch such things, she’s a rising star. The former editor of Notre Dame’s alternative newspaper The Irish Rover, and an intern at the Catholic site Ethika Politika (where I worked with her), she’s now a William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow at the National Review Institute. She keeps pointing out where pro-choice arguments lead.
The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus recently wrote on this twice. In the first article, she says she would have aborted her two children if they had Down Syndrome. “I would have grieved the loss and moved on.” The reason? Not because the child would be handicapped. She’s not pretending to want to protect the child from the pains of life with Down Syndrome. She explains: “Down syndrome is life-altering for the entire family. … I’m going to be blunt here: That was not the child I wanted.”
Of course having a Down child is life changing, Alexandra replies. “But so is having any child. … Would Marcus apply this logic to members of other minority groups that face unique challenges?” A black female, for example. A child missing a foot. A very short homely male. By her own logic, Marcus should apply her logic in these cases as well.
Marcus wrote a second article a week later, quoting some of the “silenced majority” of women she says wrote to her after her first piece. Some had a child with Down Syndrome but supported aborting them. Others explained they were happy to have done so. She (of course) invokes the “the agonizing complexity of the matter.” It’s complex, so abortion must be legal. That’s her argument.
Alexandra responds that abortion isn’t just a choice, it’s a decision about a fact. It’s “a determination, based on arbitrary characteristics, about whether another human being is valuable and deserving of respect.” She agrees that the issue can be “agonizingly complex,” as Marcus says. But not that complex. “There’s nothing complex about the intrinsic dignity of every human person, and their right to life. If Marcus insists upon denying unborn children with Down syndrome that right, she simply must defend her position with more than a nod to individual autonomy — and a handful of reader emails.”
But It’s Okay, Really
The newspaper followed up Marcus’s two articles with another by the father of a child with Down Syndrome. Tim J. McGuire believes that aborting handicapped children — like his own son — is just as bad as the ancient practice of leaving newborns on hillsides to die. But it’s okay if the mother wants to do it.
“I find it reprehensible and morally dangerous,” he says, “that our governments would pretend to know best what choice parents should make. I oppose abortion, but I believe the state must stay out of that choice.”
Alexandra isn’t having it. As “a conservative who favors limited government,” she agrees that the government should mostly let people do what they want. We have the freedom to make bad and even self-destructive choices.
But you can’t say that “if you believe, as McGuire does, that the choice in question is one to kill an innocent human being. … If the government isn’t permitted to limit the right to kill an innocent human being, how can the state possibly justify any other infringement on its citizens’ choices?”
Ruth Marcus’s Future
Exactly. This is the point pro-choicers miss. I think of Thomas More’s speech in the play A Man for All Seasons. His idealistic but intemperate son-in-law Will Roper complains that More would “give the Devil benefit of law!”
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
The right to life is one of these laws. And it’s God’s, not man’s. Here’s the pro-choicers’ fatal mistake. The legal belief in the sanctity of life protects them just as much as it protects the unborn. Someday Marcus may be lying in a hospital bed, needing an expensive operation and months of expensive rehab, but looking forward to many enjoyable years of life after that. She might hear her child say, “That’s not the mother I want.” Or an insurance company say, “That’s not the patient we want to cover.”
That child could think, “Mom would have had me killed if I wasn’t good enough for her. Well, now she’s not good enough for me.” It would be heartless. But it would be perfectly fair. He’d just be evaluating his mother’s future by the same criterion she used to evaluate his.
That’s the world the pro-choicers created. That’s the basic legal principle they established. They taught this morality. Now, only the unborn face death by someone else’s fiat. Someday, it might well be them. Now that they cut down the laws protecting human life — and they’re just the people who did it — do they really think they can stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
For David’s follow-up to this article, see his My Angry Pro-Choice Critic Called It Lying. He Was Wrong. For his articles in the Human Life Review and its website, click here. Follow David on Twitter at DavidMillsWrtng.