Pro-abortion forces continue to bombard us with rhetoric that is profoundly dehumanizing to women, babies, and their opponents.
This week alone, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has gone on the record calling babies a “devastating consequence” and suggesting that pro-life members of Congress oppose abortion so that they can keep “women in their place.”
Ms. Richards’ comments are as crude as they are fundamentally false.
Contrary to their well-marketed talking points, pro-abortion advocates are not promoting human rights, but instead their messages degrade the very people they claim to be protecting – women and children. Instead, it is those who stand up and fight for the human dignity inherent in every life – men, women, and children at all stages of development – who are offering a message of hope and empowerment for all people.
Here are three of the abortion industry’s most widely disseminated fallacies, and the devastating consequences inherent in each.
1. Pro-abortion advocates claim women cannot have equality with men unless they have access to abortion.
Central to Ms. Richards’ comments claiming pro-life members of Congress want to keep “women in their place,” is the premise that women will only be able to thrive in our society if they have unfettered access to abortion on demand.
In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the biggest Supreme Court case tackling abortion since Roe v. Wade, Justices O’Conner, Kennedy and Souter argue that a women’s right to abortion must be maintained because women have come to rely on abortion for our place in society. They write, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”
Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans United for Life, asserts that, “This is an offensive and a deeply, deeply impoverished view of women. These abortion advocates are the true misogynists in our society and they are thoroughly discounting true female power and ability. Arguing that a women’s destiny is shaped negatively by motherhood and that her equal citizenship is dependent on abortion is fundamentally anti-women.”
If women truly do not have a place in society unless we mutilate our own bodies and our unborn children in order to more closely resemble men, then perhaps the problem lies with our society and its values. A culture that devalues motherhood and sees our children as nuisances is the problem, not our unique ability to carry and bear children.
A woman’s dignity is inherent in her personhood. It is not contingent upon her ability to emulate men, and to say anything less is profoundly degrading to women.
2. Pro-abortion advocates claim they are promoting women’s health.
The pro-abortion lobby has permeated our airwaves with messages that abortion equals women’s health. To be anti-abortion is to be anti-health.
Yet, when given the opportunity to ensure that women have even the most basic standards of health care in abortion facilities, the abortion industry balks, spewing vitriol at anyone who would dare to demand that they be held to the same standard of care as other medical facilities.
Recognizing that abortion is a dangerous and invasive procedure, and that women routinely require hospitalization following an abortion procedure, the state of Texas joined numerous other states passing common-sense regulations requiring abortion facilities to meet basic health care standards. Yet, the abortion industry is now fighting this pro-health and pro-women legislation tooth and nail, taking their challenge all the way to the Supreme Court this spring.
In the amicus brief the ACLJ filed with the Supreme Court in this case, we detail just how many times ambulances are called to abortion clinics and how often hospitalization is required following abortion procedures.
But abortion clinics would rather close their doors than comply with bare minimum standards that protect women’s health.
Those who stand for life know that abortion cannot be equated with women’s health care because a pregnancy is not a disease or an illness that needs to be cured or healed. However, regardless of your views on abortion, if we as a society really care about the welfare and health of women, we should all agree that we should ensure abortion clinics must meet the highest safety standards.
To oppose these measures does not promote women’s health. It stands against it. And only one side of the abortion debate supports these basic safety standards that can save women’s lives.
3. Pro-abortion advocates intrinsically argue that it is better for an unborn child to be aborted than to be born into poverty.
A headline this week in the LA Times read, “After Texas stopped funding Planned Parenthood, low-income women had more babies.” This article, along with many others this week, detailed a research study on birth rates in low-income Texas communities following the state’s implementation of health standards for abortion clinics and reallocation of state funds away from Planned Parenthood and towards clinics that provide comprehensive care for women.
The tone of the articles seemed to bemoan the birth of these children, and not so subtly insinuate that their births should be concerning to readers.
Cecile Richards commented to the LA Times, “This new research shows the devastating consequences for women when politicians block access to care at Planned Parenthood.”
Devastating Consequences? Children are not devastating consequences. Neither is a child a “mistake” nor a mother “punished with a baby” as President Obama, the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history, put it. They are precious human beings who are to be celebrated and protected. And babies born into poverty are no less valuable than their wealthier counterparts. To say otherwise is incredibly offensive and a short-sighted view of the value of human life.
Should we be concerned for the welfare of babies born into poverty? Absolutely! But does this mean that it is better for them to die than to face such poverty? Absolutely not!
The value of human life far outweighs any hardship that life may face – every single time for every single life. Just ask LeBron James, Jesse Owens, Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Larry Ellison, or any other number of people born into poverty, many of them born to young single mothers who sacrificed everything to give them the life and love every human being deserves.
The empowering choice for children born into poverty is to choose life and demand a high standard of care for their precious mothers. This is why crisis pregnancy centers are so vitally important – centers where we gather around women to ensure they have the support and community they need to choose life.
As Supreme Court battles continue and abortion is debated in an election year, it’s important to peal away the layers of the rhetoric on all sides and ask some very basic questions. Who is really saying all lives have inherent dignity and deserve protection and care? Who is really telling women we are equal to men and do not need to be more like men in order to contribute to our society? Who is really looking out to ensure all women and children have access to health care that ensures lives aren’t put at risk if something goes wrong?
We must defend every life and we must stand on the side that truly empowers all women. These things are not mutually exclusive because they actually go, as the March for Life said this year, hand in hand.
Palmer Williams is Associate Counsel with the ACLJ, focusing on government affairs, sanctity of life, and international law. Prior to joining the ACLJ, Palmer worked as the Pro Bono Coordinator for the Tennessee Supreme Court and then in the field of international adoption and orphan care. Palmer earned her Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt Law School and her B.A. in Political Science & Community Development from Vanderbilt University.
Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.