Tuesday, July 29, 2014

News From Texas: Pro-life Laws Work

     Here’s some good news on the abortion front from Life Site News:
            A Texas law requiring abortionists to have admitting privilege at local hospitals will reduce the number of abortions statewide by 9,200 this year, according to a newly released report from a think tank that supports abortion-on-demand. [full story here]

By merely holding abortion providers accountable to some (not even all) of the regulations that apply to other medical facilities, the state of Texas has reduced its abortion rate by 13%.     Of course, this is only a partial victory: 87% is much larger than 13%, and there will still be over one million abortions in the United States this year.  And there are those who argue that by championing these partial measures we seem to be giving at least tacit approval to that larger number of legal abortions still taking place, making the ultimate elimination of legal abortion less likely.  Are successes like the reported reduction in Texas no more than Pyrrhic victories?
     I am convinced that laws that restrict or discourage abortion are good in themselves, and are positive steps toward a general ban.  They are good because they save the lives of at least some babies, and have benefits for other interested parties as well.  Consider the Texas law, for instance.  It means not only 9,200 innocent lives saved, but also that same number of mothers not suffering the pain, trauma, and guilt that comes from destroying their own children, many thousands of fathers, relatives and friends who won’t be implicated in the taking of an innocent human life, and countless abortion providers and their employees who will have at least one fewer crime to account for.
     And then there’s the big picture.  First of all, there are certainly cases in which someone who is generally pro-life does undermine the pro-life message, but not so much by endorsing a partial restriction as by explicitly endorsing the exception.  For instance, consider the following from conservative columnist Ann Coulter:

No law is ever going to require a woman to bear the child of her rapist. Yes, it's every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape. But sentient human beings are capable of drawing gradations along a line . . .
The overwhelming majority of people -- including me -- are going to say the law shouldn't force someone who has been raped to carry the child. On the other hand, abortion should be illegal in most other cases.  

There is plenty wrong with Coulter’s argument [full column here]: I discuss that at greater length in some of my “Abortion Myths” posts (here and here, for instance).  Right now it’s enough to point out that the fundamental pro-life argument is that it is never morally acceptable to deliberately take an innocent human life.  If we approve of abortion in some cases, then then how can we make that argument?  We no longer have the moral ground to stand on.
     Simply arguing that certain abortions should be banned, however, does not necessarily give the green light to other abortions.   In fact, the evidence suggests just the opposite: not only do parental consent laws, informed consent laws, waiting periods, etc., result in measurable reductions in the incidence of abortion (here), just as the Texas law cited above does, but the debate and passage of such laws has tended to be accompanied by larger numbers of people professing to be pro-life.  The most dramatic shift in public opinion came during the lengthy and very public debate over partial-birth abortion in the 1990’s (here).
     So, yes, feel free to celebrate: there’s good news from Texas.  It may be only a partial victory in one (albeit one very large) state, but it’s one more step in the right direction, away from the Culture of Death in the direction of a world where human life really is held sacred.