In a recent op-ed titled “If We’re Going to Talk About Abortion This Election Year,” the author implies that pro-lifers oppose abortion as “a façade under which they continue the archaic and outlived practice of controlling women.” This theory that pro-lifers are sexist against women is a convenient one that pro-abortion groups love to use, but it ignores the facts. A recent poll of about 1,000 random Americans actually found that around 40 percent of women identify as pro-life on abortion, while 48 percent of men identify as pro-life. Certainly, the gender gap is clear, but these facts don’t suggest that the pro-life movement is driven by sexism. If pro-lifers oppose abortion in order to suppress women, isn’t it somewhat odd that 40 percent of women identify as pro-life? Suggesting that pro-lifers are driven by sexism may sound reasonable on the surface, but the numbers simply do not support this claim.
The accusation of sexism also distracts from the substance of the debate. In a debate over this highly-charged moral issue, intentions matter. To pro-lifers, abortion is literally a matter of life and death, and groundlessly claiming that the other side opposes abortion because they want to control women blatantly misrepresents the intentions of the pro-life movement. As expected, there will be a small number of people with bad intentions in any debate — on both sides of the issue. However, suggesting that sexism underlies the pro-life movement is as preposterous as claiming that the desire to kill children underlies the pro-abortion movement.
Now, in the op-ed, the author does make an argument that sounds reasonable on the surface. But once you consider what the argument is actually saying, it falls apart. First, as the author herself admits, the child has the ability to survive outside the mother’s womb at 24 weeks, “thanks to advances made in modern medicine.” However, the author states that, prior to 24 weeks, the child’s “survival is entirely contingent on the mother,” and “[t]he right to abort during this stretch should not be taken away.” So, in other words, the author is claiming that the child can be aborted as long as he or she is still dependent on the mother. Why, though, does the child’s dependence on the mother have anything to do with whether or not the child is considered alive? Does dependence indicate a lack of life? Indeed, if we were to follow this logic, wouldn’t that mean that any human who is disabled and bedridden is not alive? In actuality, this dependence argument could easily be applied to both cases. Children are still dependent even after they are born. If we placed a five-year-old in the middle of a forest without any support, the child probably wouldn’t survive very long. Does this mean that the five-year-old is not alive? Of course not! I would never suggest that abortion supporters believe in killing five-year-old children, but it’s tough to justify the selective application of this argument only to children inside the womb.
It’s also important to understand why pro-lifers oppose abortion. It is not because of sexism. As a pro-lifer myself, I can tell you exactly why I oppose abortion: because I believe that God creates each and every child inside the womb at conception, and I believe that to end the life of any child inside the womb is murder. Simply put, I oppose killing a child inside the womb for the same reason I oppose killing a child outside the womb. We continue to oppose the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade for the same reason abolitionists opposed the Supreme Court ruling on Dred Scott v. Sanders: because the Supreme Court is not God, and it is not perfect. The Court is perfectly capable of making a flawed decision, just as it did in Dred Scott, and just as it did in Roe v. Wade.
In comparison, liberals often say that it’s better to not administer the death penalty in case the convicted person is innocent. We know that the child in the womb has not committed any crimes, and yet liberals don’t seem to apply the same argument to the child. I do understand that abortion supporters have good intentions behind their support of abortion and are genuine in their beliefs. If we are going to discuss abortion, great! Pro-lifers and pro-choicers both have arguments that they wish to make. I simply ask that pro-lifers be granted respect in acknowledging that, even though we disagree with abortion supporters, we have good intentions.
Austin Holley is a College freshman from La Porte, Texas.