As states take measures to ban abortions during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, pro-abortion groups are growing concerned this will grant the government power to further restrict abortion in the future. Writing for Rewire.News, an abortion advocacy website, Mary Ziegler claimed these bans are part of a historic anti-abortion strategy to inspire doubt “about the difference between fact and ideology – and science and spin.”
If Ziegler is contending that ‘abortion rights’ should not be subject to government interference, she does not explain where this supposed ‘right’ comes from. Is abortion a natural right, something that existed prior to government and is obtained merely by existing? For this to be true, we would then have to say a woman has a natural right to abortion from the moment she comes into existence – which we know to be in the womb – but she does not have a natural right to life.
Is abortion access comparable to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? No. Abortion is demonstrative of a positive right, as it is a law established by the government, which means it can be regulated or taken away.
Roe is on shaky ground because it is based on false assumptions
Ziegler briefly discusses the 330 Human Life Amendment proposals introduced after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe v. Wade. This is framed as if pro-lifers have always been an opponent to a law a majority of people support, but this isn’t true. A majority of Americans today think Roe should be modified or overturned, and polls conducted before the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision showed widespread disapproval of it. The actions of the Supreme Court Justices nationalized what had once been a state concern.
In “Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade,” attorney Clarke D. Forsythe points out:
The Justices effectively ended an active public debate, in the sense that the American people could no longer decide the issue…As of January 1973, however, thirty states permitted no other exception than to save the life of the mother, and most states actively enforced their abortion laws. Prosecutions against abortionists were pending in many states on the day Roe was issued.
While pro-lifers stand accused by Ziegler of attempting to distort facts, Roe, according to Forsythe, was based on the assumption that abortion was safer than childbirth. This shielded abortion providers from regulations, prohibiting public health officials from enforcing health and safety standards, as the Justices granted abortionists complete discretion when it came to managing these matters. The idea of abortion being safer than childbirth is as untenable as it is dangerous. Abortion complication reports are only collected voluntarily, meaning there’s no comparability between them and maternal mortality rates. In places where there is cleaner recordkeeping, abortion is associated with a higher mortality rate than childbirth.
Citing the Hyde Amendment — which bans the federal funding of abortion except in certain circumstances — as another example of “abortion foes” attempting to narrow women’s rights, Ziegler accuses the policy of being “discriminatory.” But she leaves out the fact that most Americans are in favor of it, and how groups like Planned Parenthood blur the line to meet the amendment’s “medically necessary” exception.
Ziegler writes, “Rather than changing the text of the Constitution, [pro-lifers] could try to change the Supreme Court—by fighting to elect Republicans and lobbying them to pick justices who would reverse Roe.”
But the Supreme Court had no Constitutional basis for Roe, as they merely decided the Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to humans who are still in the womb. This reasoning is flawed, as the amendment was intended to be universal, granting “equal protection of the laws” to all human beings.
Rather than pro-lifers creating disorientation regarding the law, pro-abortion advocates have spawned confusion regarding their own position. The original rationale for Roe was discarded because of Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, replacing the Constitution justification with a sociological one. Far from being established law, the ruling Ziegler and other abortion proponents stand by is incredibly inconsistent.
Abortion is risky, and even riskier during a pandemic
In an attempt to “redefine the effects of abortion,” Ziegler asserts that “anti-abortion groups” hired their own experts to prove abortion makes “pregnant people sick instead of equal.” She contends all claims about abortion risks have been “rejected” by “elite medical organizations,” but their studies often rely on flawed reporting and a lack of concrete data on abortion.
Expressing fear about how abortion access may change when the pandemic is over, Ziegler worries current state bans on abortion may lay the groundwork for states to “roll back rights in the name of an emergency.” Ziegler assumes the motivation behind the COVID-19 abortion bans is based on false charges. She denies that abortion patients would overwhelm already overburdened hospitals, and Ziegler claims abortionists are not hoarding personal protective equipment (PPE).
But we’ve seen Planned Parenthood request donations of PPE for abortion services as hospitals try to combat COVID-19 while facing supply shortages. While it’s difficult to track the precise number of complications due to incomplete reporting, there’s been a series of alarming cases of abortion patients requiring emergency care. This puts women at risk, as a hospital visit may expose them to the virus, or cause the infection to spread.
If the argument is that clinics don’t use PPE that often, but we’re also supposed to believe abortion is the same as any normal medical procedure, this would be another example of abortion facilities determining their own standard of care.
Roe did not give women “equality”
Ziegler’s piece not only ignores Roe’s indefensibility, it dismisses the dangers of legalized abortion, pretending that it helped women achieve “equal citizenship.” Aside from abortion, Roe has never been cited in any case related to women’s issues, and equal opportunities for women have been granted through a series of laws seeking correction of workplace discrimination and other concerns.
The only result abortion has managed to successfully achieve is the destruction of over 60 million babies. As our country works to preserve lives during the COVID-19 outbreak, perhaps, as Ziegler fears, people will see no good could possibly come from inflating our country’s death toll with the intentional killing of preborn children.
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