During the course of the 2020 Presidential Election, a common talking point used by abortion supporters was to claim abortion is a form of essential healthcare for women. The slogan made the rounds on all sorts of media. Even President-Elect Joe Biden stated during a virtual Townhall with former Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton in April 2020 that “abortion is an essential healthcare service…that cannot be delayed.”
The slogan adopted is not new. For the past couple of years, abortion supporters have used the slogan to try and reframe the debate: Abortion is healthcare. Miley Cyrus provided the best example of the trend in her ridiculous stunt in 2019, licking a cake with the words “Abortion is Healthcare” written in frosting. As far back as 1990, abortionist Warren Hern asserted in his textbook Abortion Practice, which teaches doctors how to perform abortions, that pregnancy should be seen as a sort of parasitic illness, and treated as such.
Of course, cake is not an argument. Neither are pithy slogans, assertions, and publicity stunts. Additionally, they shouldn’t be accorded the same respect as developed arguments. Those who stamp their feet and angrily insist that “abortion is healthcare” need to do better than make a mere assertion. After all, why should anyone believe that abortion is “healthcare” in the first place?
There are two major problems with the assertion.
What are the preborn?
First, it simply presumes the unborn are not human beings. When a pregnant woman goes to see her obstetrician for a checkup, is he working with only one patient, or two? Are prenatal checkups an essential part of healthcare? It would seem that, without question, they undoubtedly are.
This highlights the contradictory nature of claiming that abortion is healthcare. A doctor who specializes in prenatal medicine is interested in keeping an unborn child alive and healthy through the duration of pregnancy, just like doctors in other specializations are interested in ensuring their patients remain alive and healthy even while impacted by a medical condition such as disease, disability, or injury. If healthcare is interested in the health and flourishing of human beings, then it’s ridiculous to claim that a procedure with the specific intent to end the life of a human being.
Because elective abortion is geared towards eliminating the product of two functional reproductive systems working together, the deliberately destructive nature of elective abortion undermines any claim to be a form of health “care” in the first place. Calling elective abortion “healthcare” makes about as much sense as swimming nude in raw sewage and calling it “hygiene.”
Some will object and claim that since pregnancy can lead to poor health in women, due to various complications that may arise during pregnancy, abortion is allowed as a means to either treat these complications, or to prevent any complications from arising. This was part of the justification for allowing late-term abortions given in the Supreme Court case of Doe v. Bolton. The Court asserted all aspects of a woman’s health need to be taken into account, not merely the physical.
It’s true, if we define health in a broad sense, abortion may lead to an increase in a mother’s overall health to a degree. However, this still doesn’t justify abortion as an essential form of healthcare. Parents might be significantly stressed out by an infant who is teething, perhaps even more than they were stressed during pregnancy. This in no way justifies killing their toddler to help restore their parents’ mental and physical health. Babies are well-known for keeping their parents up late at night and waking their parents up at odd hours for feeding. Would we really allow someone to use this as a justification for killing their son or daughter outright? If not, then why do we allow the unborn to be killed for the same or similar reasons? What difference is there between the born and the unborn that allows us to intentionally kill the unborn? Defenders of abortion must give us an answer; hiding behind cake isn’t good enough when the life of another human being itself is being questioned.
There is a second underlying assumption as well that needs to be challenged, namely, that abortion itself is an intrinsic good for women.
Is abortion intrinsically good?
Why should anyone believe that abortion is an inherent good in the first place? What disorder, injury, or illness is it supposed to repair or prevent?
Pregnancy is not in itself a disordered state. Provided, complications sometimes do arise, but this in no way means pregnancy is in itself a malfunction of the body; it means there is a malfunction somewhere else in the system.
The purpose of healthcare is to correct defects within a system that should be functioning normally. As mentioned above, in the case of reproduction, true reproductive healthcare, is concerned with ensuring that the human reproductive process can take place without hindrance.
For example, the purpose of eyes is to see clearly what is in front of a person. If they are unable to see clearly, we prescribe glasses or contact lenses to help correct the defect.
Pregnancy isn’t a defect; quite the opposite, in fact. It is what results when all the human reproductive organs are functioning as they are supposed to during sexual intercourse. While this can be inconvenient, it doesn’t make it a health defect.
An additional point can be made on this matter. If pregnancy is to be treated as a disorder, a defect in the human body which can be corrected with abortion, then what does that say about how we view women? Are we really to conclude that women have a defect in their very nature, which can only be corrected by making them more like men, in not carrying a child?
It is the abortion-choice mentality that has led to an attack on the dignity of women, not the pro-life position. By framing abortion as healthcare, it is the pro-choice movement which has ironically claimed there is something inherently wrong with women, and it can only be fixed by a special sort of surgery that ends up making women more like men.
Instead of viewing a woman’s special and beautiful ability to help bring a child into the world, treating abortion as healthcare ends up treating the special abilities of women as something to be feared and hated. Fearing and hating the abilities of one’s body can hardly be a healthy mindset.
With the rapidly changing political and cultural atmosphere in America, pro-lifers have a major opportunity over the coming months and years to bring a greater focus on what it means to be human, and what that means for both men and women to hold greater respect for our unborn neighbors. While snarky pro-choice talking points are repeated with regularity and without much thoughtfulness, pro-life advocates can use these opportunities to bring a much-needed focus back to the humanity of the unborn, and the inhumanity of abortion.