Scriptorium 2

18 Jul 2019

Some Thoughts on Abortion

I was in a political discussion in the comments of a Facebook when the topic of abortion came up, and I wrote a rather long comment to explain why I thought it should be illegal. I’m sharing an edited version of it here in case it might be helpful to others.

While I have many issues with the Democratic Party, by far the most important is their zealous support of legalized abortion. To illustrate why I think this is so bad, I will propose a thought experiment. What if the Republican Party adopted as a central plank the support for the legalization of the killing of illegal immigrants? After a grace period of 30 days, U.S. citizens and legal residents would be allowed to kill an illegal immigrant for whatever reason. There would be some Republicans that would be personally opposed to murder, but they don’t want to impose their morality on the rest of the country. Nobody is forcing anyone to kill an immigrant, but people have a right to choose. After all, these illegal immigrants might be an inconvenience or even get in the way of some people’s careers. It is a difficult decision to choose to kill one’s neighbor, and no one has a right to interfere in that personal choice.

Needless to say, this would be a terrible policy, but why is that? We believe that murder is evil, but why? The universal right to life comes from Christianity, which also says that the government has the responsibility to protect the lives of those under its jurisdiction. By revoking that protection for a segment of the population, the government is encouraging the commission of atrocities. A non-Christian might ask, why do I care? I’m a citizen, so I’m not in danger, and no one is forcing you Christians to kill anyone? My answer is first of all, murder is evil, and I have a duty to oppose evil even if it doesn’t directly affect me. Also, if I want to be selfish, the tacit approval of evil in a society erodes the moral climate and leads to more evils that may some day affect me directly.

What does this have to do with abortion? I say that legalized abortion is even more evil because illegal immigrants chose to come here and would have the opportunity to escape. Babies in the womb are completely innocent and helpless. There are those who say that illegal immigrants have no choice but to come here. Whether or not that is true, every pregnant woman, unless she was raped, made the choice to do the thing that makes babies. I’m sure they hoped they wouldn’t get pregnant, but even with contraception, it’s a gamble. If I go to a casino and bet my life savings at the roulette wheel, I have to pay the consequences if I lose, no matter how difficult that is. The underlying unspoken presumption in the abortion debate is the assumed right to have sex with whomever at any time without consequences. There is a reason Catholicism teaches that sex should only take place in the context of life-long marriage between a man and a woman. It is because such a situation is most likely to provide a nurturing home for the children that may result.

What about the rape exception? Rape is a terrible evil, and if it results in a pregnancy, that is understandably a burden for the mother. However, if anyone should be killed in such a situation, it should possibly be the rapist but not the innocent child. Pro-life Christians support crisis pregnancy centers to help women in any unplanned pregnancy to care for them during the pregnancy and after the child is born, even supporting giving the child up for adoption if that is what the mother wants.

I expect that my illegal immigrant example sounds extreme to you, and indeed it is, but why don’t most people think abortion is such an extreme evil? I can give you two reasons. The first is that abortion is done in secret. The baby is usually not seen before or after the procedure. It is telling that “pro-choice” advocates are against pre-abortion sonograms or pictures of aborted fetuses. They argue that sonograms are intrusive and the showing abortion photos is insensitive, but I maintain that deep down they know that abortion can only survive if kept in secret. The second reason that people don’t think abortion is an extreme evil is that the victims of abortion have no voice.