Dave Andrusko of NRLC has been asking for examples of abortion illiteracy — things many people don’t know, but should if we’re to have a meaningful public debate. As he puts it:
But how can people participate in the abortion debate without a more-than-passing acquaintance with the basics? Indeed, if people know next to nothing about abortion–what it is, its impact on the wider culture, what led us to where we are today, to name just three– how can they meaningfully participate in the public square?
My question to you is this: what precisely are those basics? Put another way, if you were able, what fundamentals would you weave into the intellectual warp and woof of our culture in order to raise the public’s literacy on abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia?
I figured that his readers would cover the more usual topics such as the facts about fetal development, so here’s what I sent in:
* I’ve run into people who believe that Roe v. Wade ruled that the right to privacy is so broad as to include the killing of a person in the case of abortion. That is not what the Supreme Court ruled. They specifically stated that if the unborn child were considered a legal person, that the right to privacy would not apply. They then decided that the unborn child is not considered a legal person with human rights.
* Most prominent “right-to-life” politicians aren’t actually running on a “right to life” platform. They’re instead running on a “pass laws against abortion” platform. On the national level, they propose to overturn Roe vs. Wade by appointing “originalist” or “strict constructionist” justices who will rule that since the right to abortion (and/or the right to privacy) is not specifically spelled out in the Constitution, that it’s up to states to decide. This would then allow states to pass laws against abortion even without declaring the unborn child a legal person with human rights. Of course, it would also allow states to keep unrestricted abortion.
No major presidential candidate in either party ran on a platform of getting the unborn child declared a legal person with human rights. [I later amended this to note that Mike Huckabee did.]
* The abortion issue is not a battle of the sexes. There is no statistically significant difference between the views of men and women on abortion.
* Most people oppose the legality of most abortions. The cases in which a majority of people believe abortion should be legal account for fewer than 10% of abortions. When they claim to have a “pro-choice majority”, abortion advocates are counting people who believe that abortion should be legal in some circumstance as “pro-choice”. When people with the same beliefs run for office, they are “anti-choice extremists”.
* About 80% of self-identified pro-lifers are pro-contraception.
* Countries in Western Europe where children receive comprehensive sex education, and where responsible use of contraception is encouraged and expected, have achieved much lower rates of abortion and teenage pregnancy than the United States.
* Pro-life is not strictly a conservative, Republican, Christian, or religious position.
He hasn’t written the follow-up column yet, so he might still be taking submissions. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any suggestions.