Human Rights

Slate writer hates calling abortion murder, but can’t explain why

Planned Parenthood

Slate’s Christina Cauterucci is very, very upset that the Oklahoma House of Representatives just passed a non-binding resolution affirming abortion to be the “murder of unborn children.” She admits up front that it has absolutely no legal force and is just a statement of principles, but no matter; speaking the truth at all is “an insult to parents.”

Before getting to the meat of her complaint, Cauterucci attempts to pad out the “extreme Oklahoma” narrative by dredging up another bill a state lawmaker proposed earlier this year that would require women to get permission from the father of the child she wants to dispose of before having him or her aborted (complete with an obligatory The Handmaid’s Tale reference). She doesn’t really make any salient points I didn’t address in my February article on the bill—which passed one committee vote in February and has seen no action since, by the way—though it is telling that she puts “father of the fetus” in quotation marks, even though that phrasing is obviously 100% accurate. (Boy, abortion fans really can’t stand the slightest hint at what they’re actually destroying, can they?)

Cauterucci then attempts to make the case that of course abortion can’t be murder, and comes through with a logical coherence that makes one wonder just how many tinfoil hats she owns—while sneering, naturally, that “any person with an elementary grasp of logic” has no choice but to agree with her that “a 4-week-old fetus is extremely different from a 1-year-old child”: 

The former cannot think, feel, or survive in the world. It has never met its parents or even developed the capacity to “meet” anything.

Thinking and feeling? Then I suppose killing coma patients isn’t murder either. Survival? Sounds like open season on iron lung and dialysis patients. Never having met one’s parents? Bad news, all you orphans out there… 

It has no brain, heart, bones, or any organs at all.

Not exactly—according to the Endowment for Human Development, “By 5 weeks [3 weeks after fertilization], development of the brain, spinal cord, and heart is well underway. The heart begins beating at 5 weeks [3 weeks after fertilization] and one day and is visible by ultrasound almost immediately.” Click here for a full list of the organs and other characteristics that, contrary to Slate’s very well informed paragon of logic, a preborn human has by week four.

It’s technically not even a fetus yet, but a poppy seed–sized embryo.

So what? “Fetus” and “embryo” are nothing more than labels for different stages of the same entity: a living human being. But then, twisting semantics is a popular refuge for those who can’t dissect substance.

The pregnant woman in whom it exists is very likely to not even know it’s there.

Funny, it’s odd that Cauterucci’s “elementary grasp of logic” didn’t equip her to stop and ask how one human being unaware of the other’s presence has any bearing whatsoever on what the latter is… 

To insist that a miniscule [sic] clump of tissue is of equivalent substance and value to a child who has been born, nurtured, and loved is to gravely insult any parent and her actual children.

Wrong again. Do you suppose any of the horrifying implications of this suggestion — that children need someone else’s love to have moral worth — occurred to her as she typed the words? It’s yet another grim reminder that a future won by the Cult of Death will very likely be a cold place for plenty of kids outside the womb as well as within.

More importantly, size is an awfully shallow and superficial basis for “otherizing” the preborn, and lazily repeating the “clump of tissue” cliché is a dead giveaway as to Cauterucci’s ignorance—those little “clumps of tissue” possess the same essential biological characteristics and genetic composition as big clumps of tissue like you and me, revealing the bottom line that they are living human beings—meaning, growing and developing, distinct organisms belonging to the human species—just as we are.

That is the fundamental ethical problem with abortion, and that is what Cauterucci doesn’t even begin to address. Sorry to break it to you, Christina, but your grasp of logic is a few tiers below “elementary.” 

Proponents of this ideology would have moderates believe that their arguments are made in good faith, that any moral person must at least respect their belief that fetuses are the same as children, even if she disagrees with it. But it’s not a good-faith argument—it’s a cynical and manipulative one. Fetuses are not the same as babies, and the consequences of abortion—on the fetus, the pregnant woman, and the community—are not the same as the consequences of murder.

Ever notice how the most arrogant tend to have the least to be arrogant about? Cauterucci just showed us she lacks the most rudimentary understanding of embryology, yet here she projects so much certainty that she proclaims an argument she can’t even refute is an insincere front.

These groups often claim to want to imprison doctors who perform abortions, not abortion-seeking women, who they characterize as victims. But an Oklahoma state law that’s currently moot under Roe already states that women should serve up to a year in jail or pay up to a $1,000 fine if they even try to get abortion care.

It’s telling that she has to go all the way back to the time before Roe v. Wade to find a single example of the law “punishing women”—and even then, does she realize that actually prosecuting women for abortions was so incredibly rare that only two such cases were ever recorded, one of which was reversed?

Telling the truth about abortion is no insult to anyone, but trying to pass off this dreck as worthwhile commentary is most definitely an insult to Slate’s readers.

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