Once upon a time, in a strange and distant era historians call “the Bush years,” questioning someone’s patriotism was deemed the cardinal sin of American politics. With a Republican president waging a highly controversial war, liberals constantly wrapped themselves in the flag with quotes like “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Hillary Clinton famously declared:
I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.
But now that the balance of power has shifted the White House into the hands of abortion supporters, the left has conveniently forgotten all that and discovered its inner star-spangled demagogues. Last week, NARAL President Ilyse Hogue declared that defending the unborn makes us bad Americans.
On March 4, she told her fellow abortion enthusiasts:
Because what they really care about is telling women and all people for that matter, that it’s their way or the highway, that there’s only one ‘right way’ for us to live our lives, and that they get to decide what that is. And that, my friends, is un-American. But we know, and guess what, they know too, that the American people are on our side.
Two days later, she followed up by tweeting that “current anti-choice efforts in the US” were “anti-American.”
Actually, Ilyse, the American people are not on your side. CNN, Marist, and Gallup agree that between 56% and 59% of them want to ban most or all abortions. The NARAL position of always legal? Twenty-seven percent (CNN 2014), 16% (Marist 2014), and 25% (Gallup 2012). I guess it’s understandable the NARAL folks would like to imagine they’re more popular than they really are – it can get awfully lonely on the fringe.
As for the relative patriotism of killing and protecting babies, starting down this road isn’t exactly a wise move for pro-aborts. America’s mission statement, the Declaration of Independence, opens with an affirmation “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” the first of them being Life. John Locke, author of the natural-rights framework Thomas Jefferson was operating from, elaborates (emphasis added):
The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another’s pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our’s. Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.
Of course, American practice didn’t initially live up to the theory. Speaking of the human rights blight that preceded abortion, slavery, Abraham Lincoln ruefully observed that “our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid”:
As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].
(And yes, feminists, all these preceding references to “men” and “mankind” include women. Don’t believe me? Fine – believe Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.)
Eventually, Lincoln’s efforts to bring about a more comprehensive respect for human equality culminated in the Fourteenth Amendment, which refined and codified this principle in the Constitution as follows:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Though only the “born or naturalized” get American citizenship’s full slate of “privileges or immunities,” everyone gets the basic equal protection of the natural right to life. Authorial intent makes that clear – as Ronald Reagan noted:
When Congressman John A. Bingham of Ohio drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to guarantee the rights of life, liberty, and property to all human beings, he explained that all are “entitled to the protection of American law, because its divine spirit of equality declares that all men are created equal.” He said the right guaranteed by the amendment would therefore apply to “any human being.”
So according to the United States’ legal and philosophical heritage, it is unjust to kill any human being for any reason except protecting other human beings from violence. According to the biological evidence, the category “human beings” encompasses zygotes, embryos, and fetuses. Therefore, the only truly American position on abortion is to oppose its legality, not support it.
They lamely appeal to equality by claiming that abortion bans would make pregnant women unequal to their children, but that fails, too. Equality demands treating everyone in like situations alike, but it doesn’t stop us from recognizing that the situations aren’t always identical at the same time.
The pro-life ethos merely extends to the latter a protection the former already enjoys: the right not to be intentionally killed. In fact, the mother is here at all only because her right to be born was already respected when she was a fetus. Just because she is no longer in danger of being aborted doesn’t mean it’s unequal to insist she grant her child the same right she has already received the maximum benefit from.
It would, of course, be delusional to expect a serial propagandist like Hogue to reconsider any of this. Pretending the issue has anything to do with how many ways there are “for us to live our lives” has nothing to do with analysis or contemplation and everything to do with rallying followers eager to hate.
The writer Ambrose Bierce once wondered whether patriotism was the first refuge of a scoundrel or the last. To the pro-abortion movement, the answer is whenever it’s most convenient.