January 27, 2014

Abortion: a false choice women shouldn’t have to make

“. . . Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.” 

—President Obama’s concluding words in his statement yesterday celebrating the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion.

The President should have perhaps concluded his statement marking yesterday’s 41st anniversary since the infamous Roe decision with this caveat: “Except the unborn. They don’t count. In fact, my administration essentially views them as parasites.” You can read his full statement here and find the original press release here.

His equation of the option of abortion with women’s “freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams” is an example of the cognitive dissonance many progressives tend to employ when discussing this issue. Unsurprisingly, the President did not even mention the word “abortion” in his unabridged statement. President Obama’s deliberate reduction of this extremely sensitive issue into a misleading and inaccurate characterization of the national debate over abortion as one of “choice” is unsurprising, given that his record as an Illinois state senator and then a U.S. Senator for Illinois was one of the most pro-abortion on record. What’s especially demeaning to women is that, by referring to abortion within the context of “freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams”, the President indirectly associates unplanned motherhood as a barrier to freedom and opportunity for women. This is grossly insulting and demeaning to all single mothers in the country, as well as their children.

As Dr.  noted in her widely praised January 13 article for The Witherspoon Institute’s blog, where she serves as a Senior Fellow, the ongoing progressive narrative seeks to reduce the complex moral issues associated with abortion to simply an issue of a woman’s “choice” (naturally, the progressive groups like Planned Parenthood never emphasize that it’s a psychologically devastating “choice” to murder her unborn child). Within this context, progressives remain locked on what Dr. Alvaré sees as an obstacle to “a real women’s agenda”: the polarizing issue of abortion finding.

Regular squabbles over federal funding for abortion across myriad pieces of legislation seem to have taken the place of an actual legislative agenda for women’s actual needs. Instead of debating policies supporting women’s care work, or work/family balance, policies addressing paid leave or social security benefits—instead of debating ideas about enabling women to break the cycle of poverty and non-marital childbearing—Congress continually debates abortion funding. It is time to settle the matter of federal funding for abortion once and for all and move on to a real women’s agenda.

Yesterday, Rich Lowry published this excellent opinion piece in Politico’s online magazine in which he demolished Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Wendy Davis’ account of her own life. While Davis deliberately downplayed the support she received from friends and community members as a single mother, Lowry carefully researched Davis’ life, reaching out to old friends and associates, to piece together the reality that Davis now wishes she could sweep under the rug. The reality is that Davis, whose controversial filibuster in the Texas Senate earned her the approbation of the nationwide abortion industry, benefitted immensely from her ties to her church, local community, and neighbors’ generosity. Most devastatingly, Lowry’s account shows that the father of Davis’ children actually played an active role in helping Davis raise their children — the opposite of what Davis has told mainstream media in interviews.

Veteran pro-life activist and author Frederica Mathewes-Green knows what it’s like to be on both sides of this issue. As a feminist in the 1970s, she recalls, it was impossible for her at the time to see herself being both a feminist and pro-life. Now, as a longtime pro-life activist, she notes, things have changed:

I’d like to think of myself as a “feminist for life” in the sense that I absolutely support the political equality of women in society — I just don’t think this extends to abortion. I’ve read too much history to think that we’ll realistically have a society completely free of abortion (it’s been a part of literally every civilization, even when it was completely taboo), so I think the focus should be on ways to reduce them as much as possible. This will also help women. We need reforms in so many areas. Most of all, society needs to change. It imposes a heinously unfair burden on women to make them choose between a career, personal happiness, and their ambitions, on one hand, and giving birth to an unwanted child on the other.

It’s wrong that society places such a stigma on unwed mothers. We need to impress upon men that they have a basic duty to step up and help raise the child. For a man to pressure his girlfriend or wife to have an abortion is something disgustingly common. We’re also one of very few countries that don’t offer lengthy paid maternity leave, and I think this is also wrong. It’s a monstrous thing to pit a woman against that which she is carrying inside her. I don’t think my own religious views should be taken to influence those who don’t share them, but there are numerous secular arguments which oppose abortion as inherently harmful to the women who undergo them. I’ve talked with far too many women who have been devastated by the abortions they’ve gone through, who feel a real trauma from the experience, to think of it as something even remotely good for women.

The root of the problem is with our society: it’s wrong that so many women feel pressured to make the choice between family and career, and face severe pressure to conform to social norms that make unmarried single mothers face a lot of exclusion. If we actually valued motherhood and made much-needed social reforms to support single mothers with financial aid, subsidies where needed, and skills enhancement programs, I think we’d see a reduction in the abortion rate.

I was born at 24 weeks and survived with no handicaps or disabilities, so Davis’ position against any abortion restrictions doesn’t exactly endear her to me. She’s part of the problem, not the solution. I can respect the hardships she went through and her drive to get to where she is today, but I could never support her candidacy.

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