A common slogan cited by abortion-advocacy groups and individuals is “Abortion is healthcare!”
This statement is not an argument, but how can pro-life people respond to this familiar claim? Pro-life apologist, Rachel Crawford, has proposed a conversational solution that not only allows for productive dialogue but offers some key insights into the sexist rhetoric behind this common pro-choice talking point.
In a blog post titled, “‘Abortion is Healthcare’: A Misogynistic Non-Argument,” Crawford explains how statements like this utilize discriminatory language against women’s bodies. It’s a defense of legal abortion by declaring it to be women’s healthcare. Crawford said that it “should be abandoned by anyone who believes that female reproductive health should be treated by health professionals with the same respect and dignity as male reproductive health.”
She goes on to define the two types of healthcare: preventative and restorative. The former cannot be applied to abortion.
While pro-choice advocates view abortion as preventative medicine, Crawford points out this position is scientifically inaccurate. She addresses how they see abortion as a preemptive solution to a problem, as well as a resolution to social and economic ills.
Crawford claims that the unborn are not soon-to-be human beings. They are human, and the purpose of abortion is to ensure fetal demise. This is why abortion cannot scientifically be defined as preventive healthcare. Restorative healthcare seeks to resolve some sort of pathology problem.
Crawford acknowledges that women may seek this kind of care for infertility. But this definition can’t be applied to the female body during pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, it’s a sign that her body is healthy, and it’s working as it should. “In order to say abortion is restorative, you must pathologize the healthy, functioning female reproductive system,” Crawford said.
It’s demeaning to women to compare the ability to carry life with a disease that requires treatment in order to be corrected. If true, this would mean the female body is abnormal compared to her male counterpart. It would mean medical care is needed to ensure women’s bodies work the same way as a man’s. Pro-choice people may counter by saying they only want women to have access to abortion because she may need it, not because pregnancy is a disease.
Crawford refutes this contention, saying how something still has to be pathologically wrong, as diagnosis and treatment must be based on objective facts. Pro-choicers can’t have it both ways in this case. “It is incorrect to say that some pregnancies must be stopped for the sake of wellness while others are perfectly fine to continue dependent on the patient’s wishes. You can’t radically relativize medical facts and say that your position is the ‘scientific’ or ‘rational’ one.”
Crawford concedes there are cases where a pregnant woman’s health is at risk. She then clarifies that these pathological conditions are “related to the pregnancy.” An ectopic pregnancy is an example of a legitimate pathology, Crawford states. It’s not sexist to say medical intervention is necessary to save the mother’s life. This is because the treatment, in this case, is caring for a problem that has arisen during the pregnancy. Pregnancy by itself is not the problem.
Redefining healthcare is required in order to classify abortion as such. Crawford points out this reduces healthcare to the broad definition of “[some sort of intervention or action] by trained and licensed professionals.” Crawford draws a comparison to female genital mutilation (FGM). This demonstrates how FGM would fit this broad healthcare description. “If we are looking at any kind of intervention, not just ones that restore or maintain well-being, then we are including ones like FGM that can cause significant adverse effects to the person’s well-being ‘as long as they are done by a medical professional.’”
When discussing abortion, try to keep in mind that it’s not only a scientific issue. It’s an ethical and philosophical one as well. By declaring it to be healthcare, pro-choice people still have not addressed the moral claim laid out by pro-lifers. They have merely assumed that such a statement has granted their argument scientific objectivity. As Crawford makes clear, “[M]uttering ‘healthcare’ under your breath can’t bring [abortion] out of the realm of ethics and into the field of medicine.”
Next time you hear this argument, ask the person you’re debating with to clarify if abortion is preventative or restorative healthcare. Ask them what the potential implications of broad definitions of healthcare may be. It’s possible they haven’t thought of it like this before.
The “abortion is healthcare” belief tends to enforce the idea that any disagreement with the position is immoral. By having a well-articulated response prepared, you may be able to break through their confirmation bias.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.