Planned Parenthood recently tweeted an article written by Abortionist Leah Torres as support for the view abortion is healthcare.
Dr. Torres attempts to make her case, but near the end of the article throws her main thesis out the window and asserts personhood is granted only to born humans, so it ceases to matter what is done to a preborn human as long as it is what the pregnant woman wants. Finally, she reminds the reader her own personal moral obligations motivate her to keep providing abortions.
Torres, in a since deleted tweet, said she makes sure babies cannot make any noise during an abortion.
In comes an article by Bustle which covers a research paper published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The author explains “abortion deserts” — places where women must travel 100 or more miles for an abortion. The article is very clear the concern is about restrictions in obtaining “wanted abortions” to end “unwanted pregnancies.” Demand for abortions may be higher if abortion were more readily available and available to longer gestational ages, the authors claim.
Additionally, Bustle received correspondence directly from the first author of the paper. The author states women facing long travel distances to get an abortion “may choose to carry the pregnancy to term and parent that pregnancy when they may have preferred to have an abortion.” Aside from the obvious oddity of this phrase — you cannot parent a pregnancy, you can only parent human beings — the quote sums up the entire point of the research article, which is health of the mother or the medical necessity are irrelevant; what is relevant is ease of access to abortion.
Both these articles, one an opinion piece and the other a paper published in a research journal, assume abortion is health care and/or an integral part of sexual and reproductive health rights. The focus is on the women obtaining the abortions: their health, their wellness, their access to care, their right to family plan, and their right to do what they wish with their bodies.
If abortion is health care, if it is a basic human right as part of a person’s sexual and reproductive health rights, if the embryo or fetus is not a person until after birth, then yes, women should legally have access to abortion. Furthermore, they should have legal access for the entirety of a pregnancy (no gestational limits) and for whatever reason they want (not just for their health or in cases of rape or incest).
But is abortion health care or a fundamental right? And is the preborn human less of a valuable human being than one who is already born?
Abortion is not health care. And here is where we flip the viewpoint from pregnant-woman-centered to human-centered in defining health care. Whether or not you believe a preborn human is equal in value and worth to the born human pregnant with him or her (which is a philosophical and moral assertion), a preborn human is scientifically, without a doubt, a completely unique, whole, living human. Killing a human — whatever the reason — is not healthcare. Healthcare involves a wide range of medical, physical, and psychological treatments and preventative services, none of which include the elective killing of a human.
It is often emphasized women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health rights are human rights; i.e., people should care about and advocate for these rights just as they would any other fundamental human right. Abortion is not a fundamental human right because it takes the life of a human. Human rights apply to all humans, not just humans deemed valuable enough to have them. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN in 1948, it explictly outlines the rights of “all members of the human family…without distinction of any kind…” If you take human rights away from any members of the human family, they are no longer human rights but rights for some humans.
Lastly, at the core of the pro-life movement is the belief ALL human life is equal in value. This is not a scientific or legal statement. Ascribing value to life is a philosophical assertion. The philosophy can be grounded in reason, logic, science, morality, social justice, religion — or any or all of the above.
Since some humans are unable to advocate for their own rights, including their right to life, pro-lifers take it upon themselves to advocate for them. The most vulnerable of our human family are the preborn, and we choose to advocate for them and protect them from dying under euphemisms such as health care, abortion, or reproductive health rights.