No, Women Don’t Need Abortions to be Equal to Men

Opinion   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 14, 2022   |   11:12AM   |   Washington, DC

In the nearly 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court forced states to legalize abortion on demand, a perverted belief about women has slowly and steadily pervaded society.

The demeaning notion that women need to abort their own children to be free.

Now, celebrities stand on awards stages and credit their abortions for their success, and pro-abortion campaigns like #ShoutYourAbortion get attention on Oprah. Politicians push the belief, too, arguing that poor women and black women will suffer if they cannot abort their unborn babies.

This summer, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to turn things around and get society back on a track that respects and values both women and children. The justices recently heard the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Dobbs is the occasion for the Supreme Court to acknowledge that the ‘burdens’ of parenthood don’t justify aborting the next generation. It is the opportunity to embrace a model of family law that recognizes that vulnerable women need communities of support” and holds “fathers to meaningful responsibility for their children,” Elizabeth Kirk wrote at The Federalist this week.

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Kirk, the director of the Center for Law and the Human Person at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, said the justices in Roe focused more on the burdens of child-rearing than pregnancy itself.

Justice Harry Blackmun wrote that an abortion falls under a woman’s right to privacy because the “detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent,” Kirk wrote.

She continued:

In describing this “apparent” detriment, however, Justice Blackmun barely focused on pregnancy.

After a brief but vague reference to “harms medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy” (it’s not clear whether he meant harms to the pregnant mother or diagnosable health conditions of the fetus), he focused entirely on the stigma of unwed motherhood, the distress “associated with the unwanted child,” and the problem of “bringing a child into a family” unable to care for it. In [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey, the Supreme Court said women rely on abortion to “participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation.”

However, American culture has changed a lot in 50 years, and now there are long lines of couples waiting to adopt, welfare for struggling families and thousands of charities that help pregnant and parenting families in need. All 50 states have safe haven laws, too, that allow mothers to relinquish their infants to authorities if they cannot care for their baby themselves.

Kirk pointed out that the stigma of unwed motherhood also has rapidly diminished, and about 40 percent of all children are now born out of wedlock. Then there are the millions of examples of successful women, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett being one, who have become successful leaders while also raising children.

Barrett, the mother of seven children, addressed some of these things when the high court heard the Dobbs case in December. Kirk wrote:

Justice Barrett invited Julie Rikelman, attorney for Jackson Women’s Health, to explain whether the reasons set forth to justify the creation of the abortion “right” still make sense today. Barrett noted that the Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood decisions “focused on the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy” and asked whether safe haven laws respond to that problem. Later she asked Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar a similar question: in light of new options like safe haven laws, can we still say that women need abortion to avoid parenting? …

This is what Justice Barrett was getting at: if all 50 states and D.C. have resources in place to assist mothers with parenthood, can we still make the legal argument that women need abortion?

The answer is no, and pro-life advocates are hoping and praying the high court will recognize that in their ruling on Dobbs this summer.

Abortion has not advanced equality. Since 1974, more than 63 million unborn babies have been killed, denied their most basic human right, and countless mothers and fathers have been wounded by the pain and regret of their child’s unnecessary death. Equality means recognizing that every human being is unique and deserving of value, that differences in age or sex, ability or development, wantedness or circumstances do not make someone less worthy or capable of success.