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The big lie about the empowerment of women

With Roe reversed, the pro-abortion lobby reveals its moral decrepitude

Two pro-life women hold signs outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Miss., last week. Associated Press/Photo by Rogelio V. Solis

The big lie about the empowerment of women

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic reversal of Roe v. Wade, the states finally have the authority to protect life. Dobbs is a tremendous legal victory that will save millions of unborn lives. But protections for life will vary across the United States and pro-abortion advocates are rushing to enshrine a right to abortion in state laws. The spate of pro-abortion legislation reveals an abortion lobby set on allowing the killing of the unborn up until (and even beyond) birth and on erasing women from the definition of motherhood entirely. This radical ideology reveals what has been true all along: Abortion access has never been about helping women.

Recent pro-abortion legislation shares two startling features. First, many of these bills go beyond even the extreme abortion on demand once imposed by Roe and later cases. Many new laws expand upon Roe, allowing for abortion up until the moment of birth—for any reason.

The move to allow abortion through all 40 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy is grossly out of step with international human rights laws. Most countries do not allow for elective abortions at all but permit them only in narrow circumstances. Meanwhile, only six countries allow abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, and these include, most notably, China and North Korea.

Recent legislation proposed in Maryland and California went even further, preventing any investigation into “perinatal” deaths—defined to include at least the first seven days of a baby’s life—after an abortion. This language effectively permits infanticide. That it has shown up in two separate states is deeply concerning. It is a reminder of how morally bankrupt the argument for abortion really is. In fact, in 2020, every single Democratic U.S. senator opposed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a modest provision that prevented the killing of a child born alive after an attempted abortion.

The second trend showcased by recent pro-abortion legislative efforts is further evidence that abortion has never been about empowering women. Colorado recently enacted legislation that not only normalizes late-term abortions but attempts to separate women from motherhood entirely. The bill defies basic biology and self-consciously refuses to refer to women or a woman’s pregnancy. Instead, the bill awkwardly refers to an “individual’s pregnancy.” This radical view conflicts with science and erases women from their God-given motherhood role.

The erasure of women from abortion statutes reveals what has been true all along: Abortion does not help women.

In Michigan, politicians seeking to enshrine the right to an abortion in state law argue that pro-life laws are “all rooted in an effort to control women” and “keep women as mothers in the home.” But most women do not have an abortion from a position of empowerment. According to the Human Coalition, 75 percent of women who obtain an abortion would choose life if circumstances were different. And one study showed that a majority of women who have an abortion are unsure of their decision and suffer mental and physical consequences. A mere 4 percent say they feel more in control of their lives post-abortion.

In Roe, seven male justices concluded that motherhood “forces” upon women a “distressful life and future.” That view of motherhood is demeaning. As Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a mother of seven, exemplifies so well, women can be mothers and have a fulfilling and happy life. They can choose to work outside the home, inside the home, or both.

The erasure of women from abortion statutes reveals what has been true all along: Abortion does not help women. Not only does abortion cause serious physical, spiritual, and emotional health issues, but the very availability of abortion has made it more difficult for women to be working mothers. As 240 pro-life women professionals and scholars argued in Dobbs, abortion tends “to promote the male childless norm in educational and employment settings.”

Abortion has corrupted our society and made the United States less hospitable for both women and children. Abortion has made pregnancy a “women’s problem.” As Ryan T. Anderson writes in his new book, Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing, instead of increasing support for pregnant mothers and encouraging fathers to be faithful, abortion has contributed to a culture that blames women for having children—after all, they could have had an abortion.

One of the abortion industry’s biggest lies is that abortion is necessary for women to thrive. That the abortion lobby is promoting risky late-term abortions and erasing women from the definition of motherhood confirms that abortion has never been about empowering women. Abortion takes one life and harms another. As we wake up today in a post-Roe world, we must work toward a culture of life that values every mother and her child.

Erin Hawley

Erin Hawley is a wife, mom of three, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, and a law professor at Regent University School of Law.

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