Congressional Democrats—including Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin—introduced a new bill earlier this month designed to make all state abortion restrictions illegal. If abortion is constitutional, these lawmakers argue, there should be no burdensome restrictions placed upon it. Getting an abortion should, quite literally, be no more difficult than having a tooth pulled. Singling out abortion for restrictions is unfair, they claim, since it is just basic healthcare.
While this bill is bad news, and, if enacted, would undoubtedly remove many life saving, pro-life laws that have passed since Roe v. Wade, it serves another, more important purpose: It calls pro-lifers’ bluff. In all its radical audacity, this bill gets to the heart of the matter.
For if these lawmakers are correct and abortion is basic healthcare, like getting a flu shot, there really should be no restrictions placed upon it. It really should be easy and accessible. It only makes sense.
But if they are wrong, and abortion really is a monstrous evil and human rights violation on a mass scale (they are and it is), it shouldn’t be legal at all. It should be banned without exception in all circumstances.
In other words, this radical, in your face law, begs the questions of pro-lifers, “If abortion kills a person, why are you simply messing around with restrictions? Why not ban it once and for all?” A good question.
After all, we aren’t talking about regulating the oil industry here, we are talking about an industry that deals solely in death. By seeking to regulate abortion here and there, and especially by including exceptions in pro-life laws, we are tacitly granting the abortion industry legitimacy.
Regardless of what we claim to believe, we are as a movement saying, “Abortion is alright sometimes. We just want to make sure abortion clinics are clean and regulated and that abortion only happens in the rarest circumstances, like in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother appears to be in danger.”
Of course, most pro-lifers would never say anything like this. They are appalled by such a statement. But as Dorothy Day once said, “I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.” Based on their actions, many pro-life activists and organizations have made peace with abortion as a political reality. They have surrendered to the idea that abortion will always exist in some form another, and the best we can hope to do is regulate it and make it hard to get.
Abortion will never be ended this way. As we have said over and over, we must get back to the root of the abortion debate—human personhood. As strange as it sounds, this radical abortion law does just that. It denies the personhood of the preborn and then carries that premise to its logical conclusion.
The Wisconsin Personhood Amendment (and similar personhood amendments throughout the country) does just the opposite. It starts with the premise of human personhood, and then carries that premise to its logical conclusion, making abortion illegal in every circumstance.
Every restriction that ignores this fundamental issue will just be putting a bandaid on a gaping wound. It’s time for the pro-life movement to get back to the heart of the issue—personhood—and then do something about it. Perhaps this law will help ignite a fire in pro-lifers to stop playing the exceptions game and get serious about making fetal personhood a legal reality.