Third Party & Independents Archives

March for Death

This weekend in Washington D.C. there a gathering entitled “The March for Women’s Lives”, which is basically a march to celebrate the right to end the life of unborn children (or fetuses- you can label them what you want). All week long, the pro-abortion organizations have been holding events celebrating this landmark liberty- with no hint that there are any beings that matter in the slightest killed by these abortions.

This march is especially ill-named because its goal is not to protect the lives of women, but rather to maintain the freedom of one group of women (older women who can get pregnant) to kill another group of women (and men) (that is, unborn children), without offering the slightest justification.

There is nothing surprising in this, from a pure self-interest point of view. Women who can get pregnant and men who are likely to get them pregnant have a clear interest in defining unborn child in a way that makes them not matter (this is why support and opposing for abortion is neutral toward gender, an inconvenient fact for those who characterize the pro-life movement as a bunch of evil men trying to oppress women). After all, a child brings responsibilities, holds up life plans, causes great pain during pregnancy- it is much easier to say that the child is not “human”, and because we can define them as such, we can kill them, in the most gruesome ways, without offering the slightest justification. Make no mistake, that is the “right” that is being celebrated in this march.

This is not the first time in our nation when a large segment of the people in this country decided to define another group of people out of the class of “humans” for their own personal convenience. The last time we did this was slavery, and it is seen as the greatest moral blight in our nation’s history. The arguments are all the same- (1) they aren’t “full” human beings like us; (2) imagine the terrible consequences of allowing them equal rights- lets work on slowly working to mitigate the bad effects ect. In the slavery context, for some 30 years the arguments focused mostly on the “necessary evil” argument (point (2)), with the background justification being the “less than fully human” argument (point (1)). One can clearly see the parallel arguments of (1) unborn children aren’t “fully human and (2) the consequences of banning abortion would be terrible and ugly.

As the opposition for “religious radicals” from the north to slavery got stronger, and those opposed to slavery wanted to place limits on it (not allow it into the new territories), the justification turned from a “necessary evil” argument to a “right and just” argument of dehumanizing the slaves- which turned on making the dispute all about “property rights”. Again the parallels here are clear- the “right to choose” argument depends completely on the dehumanization of unborn children. The pro-abortion forces have cast abortion into friendly, red-white-and-blue “right to choose” terms, clothing this heinous practice “autonomy” clothing, reminiscent of the “property rights” clothing that once protected slavery. Yet, as with “property rights” in human beings, autonomy to take a human life is not a right at all.

Armed with their new slavery-as-a-good argument, ideological pro-slavery elements started demanding the re-opening of the international slave trade and imposition of a national slave codes. It was necessary part and parcel of their new philosophic justification of slavery as a good- after all if slavery was really a “property right”, then why should obtaining new property from Africa and keeping it secure everywhere in America not be honored? Similarly, the logic of the pro-abortion argument has led ideological pro-abortion elements to work to strike down and oppose every measure seeming to intrude on this sacred autonomy to take unborn life. That opposing went from fighting against partial birth abortions to even opposing a ban on POST-birth abortions (!!), where they actual induce labor, deliver the child, and then let her die. (I purposely say “ideological” because now, as in the 1850s, those exposing these logical extensions like slave codes and allowing partial birth abortions are not the majority of the people on the other side, but they are the intellectual and political leaders of the other side who recognize the true philosophical implications of the doctrine espoused).

This sort of pushing the political margins to the point where they no longer garnered political support led the pro-slavery and pro-abortion forces to turn toward the courts. The Supreme Court’s role in these two systems is also rather similar. In Dred Scott, the Court held that slaves could not be citizens of the United States, no matter what the people decided. Similarly, the Supreme Court has now declared that no matter how many people believe that unborn children are human beings, because the judiciary thinks they are not fully human, they cannot be and they cannot received legal protection (and they continue to push this point even further, striking down partial birth abortion laws that the overwhelming majority of the country supports). The scope of the power for 5 justices to define millions of people right out of the class of “humans” is staggering and sickening all at once- it should scare anyone. The role of the Supreme Court under the 14th amendment is to protect human beings who the government refuses to give equal rights and due process to- not to limit the definition of a human being that fits the wishes of a particular segment of our population that happens to be over-represented in the judiciary.

In light of the judicial usurpation that is Roe and is progeny, this march is rather bizarre. Basically, they are saying “we demand that you keep Roe v. Wade”. So we, the people, demand that we, the people, don’t get to decide on the issue of whether unborn children are human beings! We demand the RIGHT to have the Supreme Court decide this for us. As a brute act of political will, we demand that not only are unborn children not worthy of legal or moral consideration, but that as a constitutional matter, they can never be (See also Dred Scott).

The historical parallel between abortion and slavery that I have sketched out obviously cannot go any further, because a couple of years after Dred Scott we had a bloody civil war the settled the question of whether blacks were human beings who had the right to their own life and labor. There is no reason for us to go down that path to affirm the rights of unborn children- what we need is a political debate in this country, a full one- one without the courts restraining the people in their decision. We need people to see this so-called medical procedure for what it really is- we need to show movies like this, so people understand that a “fetus” is really just an unborn child that many people don’t care about because they do not see them. This sort of visceral realization of the horror of this practice could have the impact books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin did in the late 1850s. Of course, I could be wrong- perhaps self-interest is too powerful in this case to realize that equal rights belong to the small and powerless as well- I hope not.

Necessarily living in a democracy means we would not be able to ban abortion (with exceptions for life of mother and rape) outright. Even Lincoln realized that while the political climate was not ripe, all that could be hoped for was gradual emancipation. But the first step needs to be to stop celebrating this horrible practice, deem it as the wrong that it is, and then work to get rid of it once and for all. Only by going down that road will we live in a country where even those that are small and politically powerless have the right to life.

To end on a personal note- there are few things that make me more sad than to see the energy and dedication of so many people go toward such an ugly cause. What is more painful is seeing friends who I love and respect deeply joining in this bloody and terrible mission- showing their solidarity for those that would keep the right to kill unborn children (I have several friends who are marching in this thing, and several others that wanted to come). This is a realization that I cannot fully face without questioning the complicity of people I love in continuing this horrible practice- am not exactly sure what to do with a realization like that.

Posted by Misha Tseytlin at April 21, 2004 12:33 AM