I don’t like gimmicks. And though I am sure I will offend a few people by saying as much, I believe that the recent focus of pro-life activism on sex-selective abortion has the air of a gimmick, one of the latest in a series of end-run appeals to the public. There is the legislation being pushed by Trent Franks (R-AZ) that would punish abortionists who fail to determine if an abortion is requested for sex-selective reasons. There are also the efforts of Live Action and its leader, Lila Rose, whose methods I have questioned in some cases and outright rejected in others.
Let’s start with my first problem with this focus: say sex-selective abortion is actually outlawed. How will this be enforced? All a pregnant woman has to do is, when asked if her abortion is due solely to the fact that her child is a girl, is say “no.” I guess a few might answer honestly, but then, who is going to make sure that the abortionist is asking the question in the first place? I remain highly skeptical regarding the effectiveness and enforcability of such laws.
More importantly, though, they would signal to me, and I think to a majority of Americans, is that there is an abortion status quo that will not be undone. Certain kinds of abortions will be outlawed and shunned even by most liberals, but other kinds of abortions will be perfectly acceptable and only opposed by radicals and extremists. This has already happened to some extent with the partial-birth abortion issue. I don’t like this distinction either, to tell you the truth – a late-term baby doesn’t have greater value than an early-term baby, and yet the ban on partial-birth abortion can’t but convey this message indirectly. But here we at least have a somewhat more enforceable ban, since you can’t conceal the age of the unborn child. All a person has to do to get a sex-selective abortion is tell a simple lie. Legislation can’t stop this.
I will be honest with you all: I don’t see why I ought to be especially horrified because a child was murdered due to its sex. As soon as this becomes the issue, the original issue – whether or not abortion is murder – becomes less immediate and therefore less relevant. I’ve already seen it happen to some extent with the issue of nationalized healthcare. Before the contraception mandate, the issue was whether or not such a scheme was moral or practical. After the mandate, the dispute was over whether or not our government healthcare scheme would force religious institutions to cover items they found objectionable. One way to legitimize a controversial action is to get everyone talking about something else, preferably something that assumes the permanent legitimacy of the once-controversial action.
Now, I’m not suggesting that there’s going to be some massive problem here that leads to a total political failure. But, and you can all me an idealist if you like though I don’t see it that way, I have a real problem with even suggesting or implying that an abortion for a reason other than sex-selection might be ok. I can’t bring myself to imply something like, “abortion is bad, very bad – but sex-selective abortion, well that is absolutely abominable!” And that’s exactly what this focus does. I don’t believe for a moment that the pro-life (as opposed to feminist) groups opposing sex-selective abortion actually believe this. But we can’t always control what we imply, especially when we try to cut a short path to people’s consciences.
All of this isn’t to say that I don’t think the issue itself is worth discussing. The popularity of sex-selective abortion in certain cultures is a damning indictment of radical feminism, which for so long insisted upon “choice” and is now somewhat unsure of itself. Is the “choice” to abort a girl because she is a girl illegitimate? Or must all “reproductive choices” be unconditionally respected? These are difficult questions for them and there’s no reason not to stomp down on this twisted ankle with all the pressure we can bring to bear.
However, we pro-lifers have no reason to ponder such questions. We already have the answers. Abortion is always wrong, no matter what the reason. No one reason is better or worse than any reason, because there is no reason that can ever justify the murder of an innocent child. As soon as some reasons become more heinous than others, then the less heinous reasons become a little more acceptable to the less ideologically firm. We musn’t for a second even imply that some reasons are worse than others. Whether we are talking about a woman who might otherwise be a good mother but aborts because she perceives that the child will have a bad life, or a woman who has an abortion because her pregnancy interferes with her vacation plans, we are talking about an inherently evil and disordered act that can never be condoned.
And, with due respect to my co-blogger, I’m not going to co-opt the phrase “war on women” to describe any of this. Studies indicate that far more abortions than typically imagined are in fact coerced (another topic for another day), but the truth is that the majority are willingly sought out and participated in. This means that most of the women who obtain sex-selective abortions do so willingly. They often hail from cultures which have historically valued boys over girls, and they have absorbed these values as their own. Are women waging war on themselves? No. They are (usually but not always) responsible for their actions. They aren’t victims of a phony “war.”
The war is against innocent, defenseless life. The war is against nature, against natural law and natural order. The war is against a spiritual and transcendent view of things by a debased materialist-hedonist ethos. I don’t want to hear about the evils of sex-selective abortion anymore. I want to reaffirm why abortion as such is a blight on civilization and a plague upon our souls. If we can’t convince people that unborn human beings have value in spite of whatever reasons their parents or leftists or feminists might have for wanting to be rid of them, then this means the culture hasn’t sufficiently changed. And if that hasn’t happened, nothing else we do really matters.