If I published an article every time a pro-lifer dodged the label “anti-abortion” and instead claimed to be “pro-woman” I’d need a staff of writers. So it’s just as well I don’t get paid to write, otherwise you’d have to put up with my constant haranguing on the topic. I’ll just have to settle for an annual rant. You see, the problem with the pro-woman dodge is that every time this happens it suggests that we’re uncomfortable with our beliefs and that women are more important than men.
The standard follow-up to this not-so-artful evasiveness is to explain that women are harmed by abortion. Now, before everyone jumps down my throat, I’m not suggesting they’re not – quite the contrary. Full credit to Priscilla Coleman for setting the record straight over at MercatorNet. What I am saying is so what? Of course they’re harmed by abortion. How could anyone kill their own child and not be mentally scarred by it? Why are we even pandering to those who advocate legal abortion up until birth by treating it as a matter of debate? Why are we ceding ground so as to appear ‘woman-centred’?
You see, I don’t believe in the whole ‘woman-centred’ approach. I don’t think abortion is about women. I think it’s about children. It doesn’t matter whether women are harmed by abortion or not. Even if it were highly beneficial to their health, abortion would still be wrong. And, if you think about it, the very idea of being against a crime because it harms the perpetrator is extremely offensive. It is a disconcerting indication of how beholden we have become to the ideology of women’s rights that we don’t even notice how absurd it is for a pro-lifer to claim they are pro-woman in the context of abortion.
For those of you who can’t see this, allow me to illustrate with some quotes from Coleman’s article, with slight but obvious alterations:
- “The results of hundreds of studies published in leading peer-reviewed medicine and psychology journals over the past three decades indicate that infanticide is a substantial contributing factor to men’s mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”
- “Results revealed that men who committed infanticide experienced an 81 percent increased risk for mental health problems.”
- “…there is considerable evidence that a high percentage of men about to commit infanticide are conflicted about their choice.”
- “Lang also says that men seeking to commit infanticide of older children ‘tend to be particularly vulnerable…’ Yes, they are particularly vulnerable, but the primary reason is that psychological and physical risks increase exponentially with delayed infanticide decisions.”
That’s the man-centred approach to infanticide. Not to your taste? Nor to mine. And yet it is little different to the woman-centred approach to abortion. There is no moral difference between a newborn and a foetus, and thanks to the Gosnell trial, even many pro-choicers are having to face this fact.
Women are not lesser moral agents than men. To argue that abortion is wrong because it harms women is about as logical as arguing that burglary is wrong because 80% of burglars injure themselves while attempting to break in. It’s not that we don’t care about burglars – I, for one, care about all people to varying degrees, even murderers! – but that we mustn’t lose sight of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim. As I’ve discussed elsewhere in greater detail, being a victim of circumstance or society should not be confused with being the victim of a crime.
If we are genuinely concerned about what lies behind the decisions of so many women to kill their children, we must take care to eliminate the harm instead of making the harm into an excuse for wrongdoing. The difference between compassionate understanding and permissive condonation ought to be made pellucid. Abortions do not harm women; they harm and usually kill children. What harms women is the lie that an abortion is harmless, that it doesn’t take a human life. What harms women is the grotesque notion that they are not culpable for their actions, that they are helpless victims who shouldn’t be held accountable.
What harms women is being fed the illusion that abortion is a right to which they are entitled. It isn’t abortion that harms women, it’s the deception that they are victims with entitlements when they are in fact perpetrators. It is no wonder that when women of a gentler ilk discover they have committed one of the worst crimes imaginable they are stricken with remorse, and for the sake of such women (whose choice to remain ignorant has such disastrous consequences) we have another reason to proclaim loudly that abortion is murder. But the foremost reason should always be the children, for they are the voiceless victims.