Do we really have to enact legislation to end abortion? Can’t we just wish it away, or put on our sad faces while we tell people that it is a very bad thing, and they must not do it?
Have you ever parented a child? Thanks to legal abortion, I haven’t. But I know people who do, and who do it well. One thing they know is that it is nearly impossible to tell a child not to do something when the child sees it being done. The doing implies tacit approval of the behavior. It is simple human nature to look at others as examples of how to act. As small children, we are like little monkeys, imitating those around us even to our parents’ chagrin, as when we repeat their most colorful phrases in the most inappropriate places. “Do as I say, and not as I do,” is a common saying satirically pointing out how glaringly insufficient it is to simply tell people how without showing them by our own behavior.
Why else is it statistically true that the children of smokers will grow up to smoke, even if their parents tell them it is bad? Or consider that children of alcoholics often become alcoholics themselves, the gene for this addiction carrying a predisposition toward same, not a mandate. People who abuse children were often abused in their own childhoods. And women will abort their children if other women are doing that, too. Monkey see, monkey do. Only legislation has the strength and authority to change behavior by reducing its occurrence. Those who seek to prevent the legalization of marijuana do so in part because they believe if it is legalized, this will lead to an increased number of users. They are right. There are people who will not do something simply because it is illegal to do it, and that is sufficient reason to maintain legislation against it.
A society enacts laws to provide a framework in which its individual members can live with each other as brothers and sisters with common needs and goals. No where is this described as eloquently as in the Declaration of Independence, which provides that all human beings are created equal, and have those old unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All human beings. We corrected ourselves in the nineteenth century, and we abolished slavery. We spent the next hundred years trying to enforce that legislation. It was not easily done, but we cannot shirk the work simply because it is hard.
We must do the same regarding abortion. Whether you regard it as potential human life, or largely unformed, there is no question that left alone, the result of conception is a human being who grows to take his or her place in society. Can we prove the unborn fetus is human? Yes. He has human DNA. Can we prove he is alive? Yes. He is certainly not an inanimate object. His biological systems function and grow according to design, in the womb and then out of it, just like we all did. The only way to make the unborn child conform to our will to stop growing is to destroy his life. Can we prove the unborn child is a person, entitled to the rights of all persons in this nation? As the late President Ronald Reagan said, “"Simple morality dictates that unless and until someone can prove the unborn human is not alive, we must give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it is (alive). And, thus, it should be entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
We already enact legislation when necessary to protect our citizens from harm. In addition to protecting the unborn human life, we are required to protect his parents, who are also citizens of our nation. Sometimes, we legislate against behavior that many people believe is desirable or necessary, because the rights of those people to engage in that behavior are superseded by the rights of society to be protected against the consequences of that behavior. It is illegal to smoke marijuana, although many argue that it has reasonable health benefits, and they should have the right to do what they like with their own bodies. However, our society needs citizens who can do their jobs and contribute to the society without being hampered by mind-altering substances which may endanger other people. And even further, anti-drug legislation is also aimed at the drug user to protect him from the consequences of his own actions. We legislate against suicide for the same reason – to protect an individual from harming himself.
Abortion not only kills the unborn citizen, it also harms his parents and other family members by depriving them of his contributions. Moreover, abortion harms society for the same reason. We don’t like it when our citizens die, and rightly so. We are nothing in these United States if we are not the sum of all of our individual parts. Each part has its own value and we accord each individual equal rights and opportunities under the law so that we, as a nation and as individuals, can mutually benefit from this synergistic relationship. Society is entitled to enact legislation that builds its citizenship for the good of all even when that legislation may interfere with the desires of some individual parts.
Women especially have to be protected against coercion to abort, and we have to use legislation to do it, to make it easier for her to refuse and find another solution to the problem of her unwanted pregnancy. Will some women seek abortions for themselves anyway? Yes, and there may be a large number of them who will seek back-alley abortions if the legal road is closed, much as there are and were hold-outs in the South who refused to treat black citizens as equal to themselves. We don’t cave in to those interests simply because they exist. We continue to enforce the structure that prohibits enslaving another human being because the rights of those who want to keep slaves do not supersede the rights of other human beings not to be enslaved. Abortion violates an even more fundamental civil right than does slavery.
If we make abortion illegal, we will be able to protect women from harming themselves and others. If we restrict legal access to abortion, we close the door on people who would seek to harm women by taking away their right to have the child. Many women don’t want abortions as much as they want to take it back, and be made un-pregnant, which is irrational, but right now we just wink and nod, and let them do it anyway. But once that child is conceived, he has a right to life that supersedes her right to be undisturbed in body and mind. If we are really championing a woman’s reproductive rights by allowing her access to legal abortion, then why don’t we also allow her to kill the child after he is born if he is too much of a burden on her comfort, or her finances, or her weary body? We don’t, because we understand that the right of the child to live has primacy.
Sadly, there is no real distinction between the woman who kills her 4-year old for financial or personal gain and the woman who aborts her fetus after four months of gestation for the same reasons. The act is essentially the same, killing to solve our own problems (to paraphrase Blessed Mother Theresa). However, abortion doesn’t solve those problems. The woman who fears financial distress does not get rich because she has had an abortion. Her abusive husband or boyfriend doesn’t stop beating her after she kills his child. Her other children are still there, mouths open and hungering to be fed, even after she has aborted their sibling. It will still be tough to get through every day on the job or in class even without pregnancy or an extra child – having an abortion doesn’t guarantee that old college degree, does it? Women and young girls who became pregnant because of sexual violence don’t suddenly recover from the trauma of the assault, and often report feeling victimized yet again on the abortionist’s table. The woman whose pregnancy has made her ill is not protected from more illness, and in this case, so tragically, she may find herself in even more distress because of the abortion itself. So what problem has been solved? And how many problems has the abortion created that weren’t there before, like the substance abuse, eating disorders, self-abuse, and suicidal behaviors that statistically and significantly arise in post-abortive women? There is an old saying: everywhere you go, there you are. Abortion doesn’t fix any of the underlying problems that made the pregnancy undesirable in the first place.
Society has a vested interest in protecting the lives of all of its citizens, if only to raise for itself future taxpayers who take over the work and support our aging generations (can we say, “Social Security?”). Some may argue that children drag women into poverty. I argue that society forces women with children into poverty, in large part because it offers them abortion as a solution. Instead of funding social programs that help families feed, clothe, and educate our new citizens, we support aborting the citizens. Instead of funding programs that educate people about reproduction and the intrinsic value of sexual behavior as it relates to the creation of new life, we support the use of abortion as birth control, to destroy our fruits. Foster care programs, adoption services, and child protective services: all are under-funded, while we march in the streets demanding the right to kill the individuals who need them. Don’t we see that the so-called solution is part of the problem? Can’t we understand that if we did not allow legal abortion, we would be able to focus the vast resources and attention of this nation toward fulfilling the needs of all of its citizens, regardless of age or development, all of the living, born and unborn, men, women, and children who need our help to raise them up?
“The Creator has entrusted man's life to his responsible concern, not to make arbitrary use of it, but to preserve it with wisdom and to care for it with loving fidelity. The God of the Covenant has entrusted the life of every individual to his or her fellow human beings, brothers and sisters, according to the law of reciprocity in giving and receiving, of self-giving and of the acceptance of others.” Evangelium Vitae, paragraph 76, http://www.ewtn.com/library/ENCYC/JP2EVANG.HTM#Chapter%20III