Editor’s Note: Carrie Sheffield, a conservative commentator, is the founder of Bold, a digital news network committed to bipartisan dialogue. She is also national editor for Accuracy in Media, a conservative media watchdog organization. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion at CNN.
The Alabama pro-life law signed into law Wednesday addresses a human-rights issue: the right to life. The argument that only a woman’s body is at stake doesn’t work: from conception, a pregnancy involves at least distinct bodies — that of the fertilized egg which contains a distinct and new blend of DNA (from mother and father), all that is needed to become a baby, and that of the mother. It is dangerous when a society ignores the rights of the young and innocent.
A more useful analogy (though imperfect) to illustrate the distinction in the abortion debate would juxtapose it against an end-of-life conversation for a vulnerable, elderly parent who is on life support. An elderly, sick parent with very limited chance of viability, (as well as death penalty cases) are far removed from cases of a healthy preborn infant with her or his whole life ahead, and yet end-of-life decisions for elderly parents are generally made with great care and deliberation. And death-penalty cases take years to litigate.
But we generally don’t see similar caution in the widespread normalization of abortion. The problem with leaders like Bill Clinton and others operating under the mantra of “safe, legal and rare” is that abortion has become anything but rare in America. Yes, conservatives can and should do more to support women’s and men’s access to birth control for prevention of unwanted pregnancies, but the left must also do more to avoid termination.
There are various statistics about the prevalence of abortion. The Guttmacher Institute claims that nearly “one in four women in the United States … will have an abortion by age 45.” There were more than 3.78 million babies born in the US in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, according to the most recent CDC data available, there were 638,169 abortions. (As the CDC puts it for 2015: “the abortion ratio was 188 abortions per 1,000 live births”) That is the equivalent of a large US city being snuffed out. And this happens every year.
Abortion is a normalized, silent genocide, and laws like Alabama’s will hopefully wake up society about how desensitized to this destruction of human life we have become. The Alabama law – HB 314, “Abortion, make abortion a Class A felony and attempted abortion a Class C felony” – ensures that would-be abortion doctors are held accountable, as they should be, by codifying a societal recognition we see in at least 29 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, with “fetal homicide laws that apply to the earliest stages of pregnancy.”
If we believe human life is infinitely valuable, then how a pregnancy begins, even through rape or incest, is irrelevant. A preborn human life is at stake. In the gray areas where a mother’s life is truly at risk, then – as the Alabama law allows – heart-rending choices can be made. What Alabama does not allow are abortions motivated by inconvenience, sexual carelessness, financial calculations or worse.
Some men will argue that their opinion on abortion doesn’t matter, but this is disingenuous, especially since many men abandon women they have impregnated and others sometimes coerce women toward abortion, making them feel like they have no other option. Pro-abortion policies give men a blank pass from responsibility for their actions. This is disempowering to women and the opposite of feminist.
It’s also anti-feminist to lead women to believe that abortion is their only or best choice if they’re unable to raise a child: groups like Avail NYC envelop women facing a pregnancy crisis with love and let them know they have other options, including adoption.
Countless couples are waiting to adopt. In 2017, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau, nearly 60,000 children were adopted.
That abortion is a commonplace option in our country speaks volumes about the values of our society: erring on the side of death rather than the side of life.