The Daily Wire reported some glorious news this week: Kentucky is set to be the first state in the union without an abortion clinic. It is already joined by seven states who have only one baby butchery left. Soon it may see its last one close up shop. Thanks be to God.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is happy about this development. When I posted the story on Facebook and Twitter, many people responded with the very common and very silly argument that goes like this: “If there aren’t any places available for abortions, women will have to get them in back alleys, where many of them will die. You won’t stop abortions by closing clinics or making abortion illegal. We may as well keep it legal and accessible so that it can be done safely.”
I’m going to respond to this argument, but I’m going to leave aside almost every fact that debunks it. I’ll leave aside the obvious fact that, by definition, abortion can never be safe. I’ll leave aside the fact that you can actually decrease abortions by making them illegal. I’ll leave aside the fact that most of the back alley abortion stats have been blatantly fabricated, and the people who fabricated them have admitted to doing so. I’ll leave aside the fact that most back alley abortions didn’t actually happen in back alleys — they happened in doctor’s offices. I’ll leave all of that aside because it’s basically irrelevant.
This pro-abortion argument, like every pro-abortion argument, comes down to one simple question: Does abortion kill an innocent human life? If not, there is no need to say anything further. You need not tell me any fables about back alleys and coat hangers. If abortion is not the murder of a human child, it should be legal. If it is not the murder of a human child, it must be what Planned Parenthood says it is: the expulsion of an intrusive, non-human, parasitic mass which threatens to oppress and enslave an innocent and helpless woman. It should be legal, and probably encouraged, in every case.
But if pro-lifers are right, if abortion is the violent destruction of human life, then it must be illegal in every case, without exception, regardless of how effective or ineffective the prohibition may be. If it is murder, we can’t be concerned with providing convenience and comfort to those who wish to commit it. If it is murder, it doesn’t matter if the law against it will actually stop it from happening. If it is murder, it doesn’t matter if outlawing it will make it more dangerous for the murderer. It doesn’t matter in the case of baby murder for the same reason that it doesn’t matter for any other kind of murder.
Think about it: for thousands of years humans have written laws against all manner of violent crime — murder, rape, arson, assault, etc. — yet people still murder, rape, set things on fire, and hurt each other in a myriad of other ways. Does anyone ever suggest that we repeal the laws against rape due to the obvious impotence of the law? Would anyone ever argue that it should be legal to kidnap a child because kidnappers aren’t dissuaded by anti-kidnapping restrictions? The city of Baltimore had 343 murders in 2017, even in spite of the fact that gang shootings are still frowned upon by the courts. I doubt that any gangbanger on any street corner in west Baltimore has ever been persuaded to drop the gun and pursue a life of peace and virtue based solely on the fact that it is illegal to be a gangbanger. So, should we legalize drive-bys in hopes that they will no longer happen in unsafe and unsanitary side streets and back alleys?
Let’s make this issue a bit more personal. Consider the conundrum I would be in if I decided to abort, say, you, for example. In light of the current regulations, I’d be forced to conduct the procedure in your house while you sleep, or maybe out in the driveway while you’re washing your car one fine afternoon. A back alley would be the ideal location to pursue this form of treatment, but I’d have to lure you into the alley first, perhaps with promises of candy or a great timeshare opportunity. The point is, however I go about it, our Draconian laws against first-degree murder probably would not stop me from committing first-degree murder. They would only force me to retreat into the shadows and carry out the act using crude and dirty instruments. The law against murder will not protect you. It only puts me at risk, and it deprives you of the professional, hygienic execution you’re entitled to. Why don’t we repeal the law — which, again, prevents nothing and arguably causes more problems than it solves — and allow me to emerge from the darkness and kill you in a comfortable and convenient way, like a civilized person? The options are death in a back alley or death in a legal and clinical atmosphere. Which would you prefer?
Oh, you say there is a third option? The third option is that murder remains illegal and I simply refrain from murdering you. Yes, that’s easy for you to say. But what if I’m in a tough situation? What if your life is inconvenient to me? What if circumstances are such that your continued existence requires a certain amount of self-sacrifice on my part? What if you are a burden to me? Shouldn’t I be able to kill you in that case? And shouldn’t our government not only allow me to kill you but facilitate and fund the operation?
Maybe this illustration works better in a domestic context. What if a mother wanted to abort her born child? What if her son is going through his Terrible Twos and now she’s experiencing buyer’s remorse? What if she — being in a very tough situation, which we mustn’t judge — decides that a 24-month post-birth abortion is the right option for her family? Due to current regulations, she’d be forced to smother her child with a pillow or drown him in the bathtub, and then she faces the possibility of life imprisonment, or even execution, for making this difficult, personal choice. Shouldn’t we put an end to this injustice and allow her to bring her child to the pediatrician where he can be given a lethal injection and discarded humanely, as medical waste?
Look, I guarantee the current laws against post-birth abortion have never stopped anyone from doing it. If someone gets to the point where the only thing preventing them from killing their child is the law, I doubt the dam will hold forever. What, then, is the law against murder accomplishing, other than forcing parents to seek less safe and less clean options?
But what I’m saying is madness, and you know it is madness. It’s nauseating, too, and it makes you angry that I could even speak of child murder so flippantly. It’s murder, you say. It should be illegal because it’s murder! What more needs to be said? What does it accomplish? Who cares what it accomplishes? It accomplishes us not being a horrible, twisted, hellish, nightmare of a country where a person can legally murder a two-year-old, for God’s sake. That’s what it accomplishes, you say.
And it accomplishes a few other things, for the record: 1) It legally affirms the dignity and value of (born) human beings. 2) It punishes those who harm or destroy human life. 3) It helps to shape the public conscience. Everyone in America came to agree that slavery was wrong only after slavery had been made illegal. This is not a coincidence. An evil act is more likely to be accepted — and thus practiced — if it is protected under the law. 4) It brings us a step closer to being a just, moral, and properly ordered society.
Well, if an unborn human is a human (which he is), and if abortion kills that human (which it does), then it is murder and ought to be treated like any other murder, no matter what the law accomplishes, or what it results in, or what sort of burdens it creates on society or on the mothers who’d rather kill their kids than go through the trouble of giving birth to them and putting them up for adoption. That is my answer to the “back alley” argument: frankly, I don’t care. I wish harm on no one, but my concern is not to make it safer for you to kill someone. The back alley is no more an argument for legalizing abortion than Andrea Yates’ bathtub is an argument for legalizing the murder of toddlers and adolescents.
Murder should be illegal because it is murder. It’s really as simple as that.