Monday, April 20, 2020

Coronavirus, Liberty, and Abortion: Does the Right to Life Supersede All Other Rights?

A woman wearing a mask and scrolling on a cell phone

In the current debate over abortion, most abortion advocates say that a mother has the right to abort a child for any reason, including to protect her career, to avoid financial hardship, to avoid mental health issues, or just because the child is not “wanted”. It’s been curious, then, to watch how many of those who are vocally “pro-choice” are now advocating that the government force all Americans to give up their careers, their means of maintaining financial stability, and in many cases, their mental health, for the sake of saving lives.

To be clear, I take the virus very seriously, and I believe that everyone should voluntarily participate in social distancing. My point is not that the actions taken have been wrong; my point is that I think almost everyone knows, at some level, that our freedoms should be limited when they have to potential to harm the most vulnerable among us.

The extreme measures being taken to slow the novel coronavirus have been painful for many. It has resulted in catastrophic amounts of unemployment, skyrocketing numbers of those reporting mental health issues, increases in addiction and abuse, education being negatively impacted (or entirely disappearing from children’s lives, based on resources available to the family), and even a loss of liberties guaranteed by the bill of rights (freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, etc.). We have been shown the science behind “flattening the curve” and told we must accept these challenges and restrictions for the sake of saving lives. The rhetoric is convincing; if we are unwilling to stay home, whatever the cost, we are risking the lives of the most vulnerable in society: the elderly, the immunocompromised, those with underlying conditions, and the individuals on the frontlines of healthcare and food production. Everyone, including many celebrities and politicians who are “pro-choice” without restrictions, has jumped on board this train. It doesn’t seem like a hard concept. Almost everyone in society can accept that even extreme hardship must be endured, if it is for the sake of protecting innocent lives. The real question is, why are we unable to apply this logic to abortion?

How do we tell someone they are a bad person if they don’t want to watch their small business crumble to potentially save the life of someone they don’t know, but tell a woman it’s perfectly fine to deliberately end her child’s life if she isn’t financially ready for a child? How do we shame a mother for going to a park or grocery store with her kids when her mental health is unraveling because she can’t get out of the house or doesn’t have other options to find food for her family, but tell a woman she is a hero for aborting a child who might have negatively impacted her mental health? How do we tell people that they must sacrifice the very freedoms promised by the constitution for a person who is unconnected to and unloved by them, but tell a women she can kill a child who she brought into existence by an act of will (in most cases) if she doesn’t care about or want that child?

If we really believe that the right to life and the protection of innocent humans is more important than any other right, we should apply this consistently across the board. We should remind everyone that the possibility of pregnancy is a biological reality anytime we’re discussing sexual liberty. That possibility imposes real challenges, but we should work to address these hardships in the same way we’re looking to minimize the current hardships, rather than accepting casualties. If we can give up our rights—and insist others do the same—in the face of a few million deaths due to the novel coronavirus, why can we not do the same in the face of over 60 million abortions in the United States since Roe v. Wade?

[Today's guest post is by Holly Carter. Photo credit: Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.]

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