I’ve been doing some thinking about the anti-abortion position, and asking myself some basic questions:
- What do anti-abortionists say they believe?
- What do anti-abortionists do?
- Are these two things consistent?
As far as I can tell, what they do and what they say are at odds. Either they do not really believe abortion is murder, or I hold them in absolute moral contempt for hypocricy and… well… murder. Let me explain.
The main argument from anti-abortionists goes something like this: A fetus is equivalent to a human being and is deserving of the same protections of law. Therefore, an abortion is equivalent to murder. It is murder. And that’s why a woman’s right to choose ends with the existence of a fetus inside her. This is what they say they believe.
What do they do?
- They make policies allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest. This is inconsistent with believing abortion is murder. If Casey Anthony had proven that Caylee’s conception was the result of rape, would we have dismissed the murder charges out of hand?
- They dismiss the “murders” committed by their own. Rick Santorum’s wife Karen had a second trimester abortion. Curiously, nobody’s picketing her house calling her a murderer. Nobody’s suggesting that Rick was an accessory to murder and therefore unfit for political leadership. In fact, lots of people — anti-abortionists included — are defending Karen’s decision as “difficult, but acceptable.” Perhaps Karen’s case could be called “self defense,” but the point is still valid: When anti-abortionists have abortions, they are usually just reprimanded and forgiven.
- Which brings up a very important point. What are anti-abortionists proposing as a penalty for women who have abortions? If abortion equals murder, then the punishment ought to be the same. For premeditated murder (abortion is premeditated by definition), it’s often death. If not death, it’s life in prison. Why aren’t anti-abortionists proposing death for abortion?
- According to anti-abortionists, the new life begins when the egg and sperm unite. If this is true, why are anti-abortionists so opposed to birth control? Granted, there are a couple (only a couple) of abortifacient birth control methods, but most prevent the union of the egg and sperm. No creation of life, and therefore, no possibility of murder. Why wouldn’t anti-abortionists be strong supporters of birth control use, distribution, and education?
- According to their own beliefs, they routinely commit murder. Protestant women account for almost 40% of abortions in the U.S. Add in Catholics and you’ve accounted for nearly 70% of all abortions in the U.S. If they really, genuinely believe it’s murder, then they’re committing murder at a rate that would make Pol Potswell with pride.
These inconsistencies are puzzling. The anti-abortion lobby is vehement, angry, and persistent. They have introduced over 1000 bills in state and federal legislatures to restrict women’s rights, de-fund abortion providers, and intimidate doctors. Why, with all this fervor, are they being so soft on the actual act of abortion? And why are they so opposed to programs which would reduce abortions — like condom distribution and sex education (both of which have been proven to work all over the world)?