How To Kill and Get Away With It

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Perhaps one day the United States will be free of having to listen to Planned Parenthood call for unlimited abortion access in the name of women’s rights, but today is not that day. 

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood’s CEO, was at it again recently. In an interview with Politico, she urged Democrats to stand firm on keeping abortion rights a key element of their party platform after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, said abortion would not be a “litmus test” used to decide which candidates to support in the 2018 midterm elections.

“It’s a shocking sort of misunderstanding of actually where the country is … which is overwhelmingly supportive of abortion rights,” Richards said, revealing her own ignorance of the actual climate of the nation, in which only 29% of the population believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances, and the pro-choice vs. pro-life divide is measured at 49% and 46% of the population respectively. 

“Once you have a right for more than 40 years, people begin to assume that that’s actually established law,” Richards continued, apparently concluding that because a law is old, that means it must not be challenged. It’s a surprising tactic because the entire Left, of which she is a veritable icon, is based on tearing apart old laws and norms.

Richards’s interview was painful to watch. Painful not only because she was arguing for the continued legal killing of our society’s most defenseless members, but also because it is hard to watch a woman choose such a philosophically weak hill to die on — or in this case to kill on. 

The strongest argument that Richards, or indeed the whole pro-legal-abortion movement, can conjure is that even if an individual is privately against abortion, or “personally pro-life” as they say, that person has “no right” to inflict their view on anyone else.

“People can distinguish between their own personal feelings and what they believe government or politicians should do,” Richards told Politico. “[People] who may themselves personally say, ‘I would never choose to have an abortion,’ or, ‘That’s not something that’s right for me,’ also absolutely do not believe politicians should be making decisions about pregnancy for women.” 

It almost makes sense. Almost.

Of course, to make sense of this logic, one has to deny all moral reasoning, which demands that if something is believed to be immoral in every instance then that morality — or lack thereof — overrides private choice. And how do we determine what is or is not moral without falling prey to relativism and subjectivity? We ask whether we would want to be immune from it. Would we want to be immune from being killed based on our age, sex, or ability? If we say “yes” then we must publicly declare that other human beings have similar rights. If we only declare it privately, we forfeit our own right to not be killed.

The problems with Richards’s argument are manifold, but Richards and those who support her prefer to talk in the language of feelings. It’s nauseating, manipulative, and so filled with logical incoherencies it’s exhausting to even come up with a counter-argument (which doubtless is why they choose such tactics). But since in our current society people’s feelings seem to have super-ceded the need or desire to seek Truth, I will try to speak their language in order to address the evil that Richards is trying to hide behind a mirage of pithy political prose.

If you are pro-life, that is, if you personally believe that abortion is wrong, then you believe that life begins at conception. Ergo, you personally believe that abortion ends an innocent life.  

Let me re-state:  If you are personally pro-life, then you personally believe that abortion is the taking of life. 

Cecile Richards would agree with me to this point. I even threw lots of “personal belief” verbiage in there, so as to diffuse the language barrier.

So, let’s say you’re one of these personally pro-life beings. To you, abortion is murder committed knowingly by certain members of the medical profession.

And yet, Richards believes — publicly I might add — that although you view abortion to be no different from killing a newborn baby, you cannot publicly legislate or even publicly argue against it.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how morality dies.

It dies when a man or woman is told to put conscience away and vote in favor of what that person views to be morally equivalent to infanticide.

At least many pro-legal-abortion people claim (however implausibly) that abortion does not take life. To them, and presumably to the majority of their constituents if they are elected officials, voting in favor of legal abortion is not immoral.

To quote the conservative intellectual Hadley Arkes, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, “[Pro-choicers] do not wish to say they want to take life for private reasons. They simply wish to decide when life begins for private reasons.”

But a personally pro-life individual? That person has acknowledged that abortion is to that person the taking of life, and yet that person has – or should have, according to Richards – no qualm in taking part in what he or she sees as the continuous slaughter of innocents.

I can’t imagine anyone I would respect less, or want less in office than the spineless entity devoid of morality that Richards describes.

Feelings aside, abortion does not exist in the gray area where people constantly try to put it. Something cannot be “kind of like killing … ish.” It either is the taking of innocent life, or it is not.

The circumstances around an abortion do not change what abortion fundamentally is. There are many that view rape, incest, and the health of the mother to be apt reasons to have an abortion. I do not. However, regardless of my or anyone else’s views, none of these reasons actually alters the question of what abortion is, whether it is or is not taking life. All they do is shift the argument to what people believe is a sufficient justification to end the life of the unborn child.

So, for someone to claim to be “personally pro-life” but also publicly support abortion is to say one of two things:  Such a person either personally acknowledges abortion to be the taking of life but publicly states that in some instances it is justified to kill an unborn child, or simply admits personal cowardly failure to take a public stand against something this person claims to believe is the destruction of an innocent life.

The option of choice at the moment appears to shift uncomfortably, avoid eye contact, and then murmur something about gray areas.

And just like that, Cecile Richards’s perfectly amoral individual is born.

In her utopia, which she is exhorting the Democratic Party to fund and support, our nation would be governed by a class of Pontius Pilates. Publicly washing their hands of blood in a faux show of innocence as they turn a blind eye to that which they know – or of at least have stated they believe – to be murder.


Kelly Marcum graduated from Georgetown University and received her M.A. from the War Studies Department at King’s College London. She lives with her husband in Washington D.C.. The opinions expressed here are her own.