AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan
Every time abortion returns to the national news cycle, the American people are bombarded with an outpouring of arguments, slogans, and ad hominem attacks from abortion activists seeking to discredit and disparage the pro-life movement. Following this month’s leak of the draft Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, progressives are once again pulling out all the stops to convince Americans that abortion remains a moral and constitutional necessity. But in reality, the left’s favorite platitudes and talking points on abortion are misleading at best and outright false at worst. As the nation awaits the High Court’s official ruling on Dobbs in the coming weeks, here are five of the left’s go-to pro-abortion arguments—and why they’re wrong.
“Abortion is a Constitutional Right”
Senator Elizabeth Warren recently joined the growing chorus of left-wing voices urging the Supreme Court to uphold Roe and, in her words, “defend our constitutional rights.” But, as Justice Samuel Alito noted in the leaked Dobbs majority opinion, abortion is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, and Roe is widely acknowledged by legal scholars on the left and the right to be poorly reasoned as a matter of constitutional law. Pro-abortion legal scholar and dean of Stanford Law School, John Hart Ely, for example, has written that Roe “was not constitutional law and gave almost no appearance of an obligation to try to be”—a perspective shared by liberal constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, who asserted that “behind [Roe’s] own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.” Even Edward Lazarus, a former law clerk to the justice who authored the Roe opinion, Harry Blackmun, conceded that no one has “produced a convincing defense of Roe on its own terms.”
Many progressives also claim that Roe must be upheld on the basis of stare decisis, the legal doctrine which says that judges should adhere to precedent wherever possible. But when prior decisions like Roe are so “egregiously wrong from the start,” as Alito writes of Roe, there is no obligation to allow such flawed decisions to stand. After all, Dred Scott v. Sandford, the notorious decision that held that black Americans were property and barred them from U.S. citizenship, was at one time constitutional precedent. If liberals consistently applied their logic of adhering strictly to precedent, Dred Scott would still be the law of the land today. The same can be said of Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 decision which established the infamous “separate but equal” doctrine until the Court overturned that precedent in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
“Thousands of Women Will Die of Back-Alley Abortions”
Another popular claim among abortion activists is that the end of Roe would lead to an increase in so-called “back-alley abortions,” in which women would be more likely to die from illegal or self-induced abortions. In 2019, for instance, former Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen claimed that “thousands of women” died on an annual basis as a result of these procedures in pre-Roe America.
But the factual evidence for this contention simply isn’t there. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1972, the year before Roe was decided, there were 39 deaths resulting from illegal abortions and 24 deaths resulting from legal abortions—far from the “thousands” asserted by Wen. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, no abortion—whether legal or illegal—is safe for the unborn child.
“It’s Not a Life, It’s a Clump of Cells”
No matter how persistently progressives claim the contrary, an unborn child – from the moment of conception — is a human being. The scientific community agrees overwhelmingly. In the McGraw-Hill textbook Patten’s Foundations of Embryology, for instance, biology professor Bruce M. Carlson from the University of Michigan writes that “the time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.” Likewise, during a 1981 government hearing, Dr. Watson A. Bowes of the University of Colorado Medical School said the following: “The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter—the beginning is conception. This straightforward biological fact should not be distorted to serve sociological, political, or economic goals.”
Though pro-abortion advocates relentlessly attempt to reduce the unborn child to a mere “fetus” or a “clump of cells,” the science is strikingly clear. It is a deep irony that the self-avowed “party of science” fails to recognize this simple scientific fact when it comes to the issue of abortion.
“What About Rape and Incest?”
Though the left is ever-eager to invoke cases of rape and incest as proof that unlimited abortion rights are necessary, such invocations are generally an effort to use a vanishingly small number of cases to distract from the overall issue. According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortions in the case of rape or incest each account for less than half of one percent of all abortions—making them exceedingly rare. So why is the left so keen on focusing on them?
As Matt Walsh of The Daily Wire writes, abortion advocates “would much rather talk about a 15-year-old girl who gets an abortion because she was raped by her father (an extraordinary hypothetical that probably accounts for half of half of one percent, if the number is even that large) than a grown woman who gets an abortion because she doesn’t want a baby to mess up her career plans.”
Moreover, as difficult as those situations may be, the left’s “rape and incest argument” still dismisses as out of hand the humanity of the children conceived as a result of those heinous acts. In the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary, conservative author and military veteran Kathy Barnette brought attention to this issue when she revealed that she was the product of a rape. As much as abortion advocates accuse the pro-life community of having no compassion for victims of rape and incest, they themselves fail to explain their lack of compassion for the unborn child conceived in such circumstances.
“No Uterus, No Opinion”
Many liberals vehemently insist that men have no authority to weigh in on abortion, and that only women should be permitted to express their thoughts. As actress Jennifer Aniston put it in response to Texas’s heartbeat bill: “No uterus, no opinion.” But this declaration stands on incredibly shaky ground. If abortion is indeed murder, as the pro-life community believes, don’t all human beings—male and female—have a moral obligation to stand up for the legal protection of the most innocent? Furthermore, Roe was decided by a Supreme Court of nine men. Do leftists, then, believe Roe should be discounted in its entirety because the opinion was handed down by seven uterus-less men?
Additionally, all children are equally the product of one man and one woman. That the father of an unborn child has nothing at stake when a woman terminates a pregnancy is manifestly dishonest. Yet even if the Court strikes down Roe, fathers will likely still have no power to protect the life of their unborn child in most cases. The idea that men are somehow trying to assert control over women’s bodies through abortion restrictions is again a distraction from the real issue at hand, which is the murder of an innocent human being in the womb.
As Bishop Robert Barron once observed, “In 1850, lots of good and thoughtful people defended the institution of slavery. Now, only insane people would.” Today, he continued, “lots of decent and thoughtful people defend the pro-choice position. One can only hope that these recent [pro-life developments] will hasten the day when only insane people would.” As the Supreme Court nears the end of its term and prepares to issue the final Dobbs decision, Americans should not be fooled by the left’s deceitful claims about abortion. And most importantly, they should pray that the day when abortion is seen as unthinkable and “insane” will come sooner rather than later.
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