This week marked the 98th State of the Union given by a US President. As usual, political statements by members of both parties were made in response or in support of Biden’s speech.
Hoping to make a profound statement, many Democratic Lawmakers took to social media to express their support for Biden’s abortion policies, and their opposition to laws prohibiting abortion. A common remark was the slogan “Abortion Is Essential Healthcare”. The slogan has become increasingly popular both online and during in person discussions, being uttered by both politicians as well as celebrities. In 2020, Miley Cyrus went viral for posing in a photograph of herself eating a cake with the words “Abortion is healthcare” written in frosting. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Democratic lawmakers fought tooth and nail to keep abortion clinics open, stating(without argument) that abortion was an “essential Healthcare service” requiring time sensitive treatment.
Shortly before the event, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts took to Twitter to show off the pin he was wearing to the event, with the caption reading
“I’m wearing my abortion pin from @PPFA to tonight’s State of the Union address. Abortion is essential healthcare and we need to codify this right.”
It should be reminded that slogans are not arguments, and simply repeating the slogan “Abortion is healthcare” bears no more relevance than any other slogan on the issue if there is no basis for why a person should believe it. Pro-lifers need to stop letting critics get away with repeating pithy slogans without being challenged.
The slogan “Abortion is healthcare” is a case in point. What do people mean when they say “healthcare”? This is where the trouble starts.
“Healthcare” implies the correction or alleviation of a physical defect, illness, or injury. Consider people who wear contact lenses or glasses(myself included). When the natural lenses in a person’s eye are misshapen, doctors prescribe artificial lenses(or surgery) to correct the defect and restore a person’s vision to proper working order. In this sense, health care involves correcting a defect(faulty vision) by providing a correction to ensure the body parts in questions(ie our eyes) work in the manner they are supposed to.
Pregnancy is different. In the case of pregnancy, what has resulted is what follows from two healthily functioning reproductive systems, coming together to unite for the same purpose during sexual intercourse, which is geared towards procreation. While there are some who deny that this is the direct purpose towards which sex is ordered, to do so is irrational, and borders on a delusion. The physiological nature of both male and female body parts, as well as their function during intercourse, is geared towards putting gametes into a position where they can unite to become a new human organism. While sex is pleasurable and builds intimacy between a man and a woman, these are not the ultimate purpose of sexual intercourse, just as while eating food may be pleasurable, the ultimate purpose of eating is health and nutrition, not merely pleasure.
Pregnancy is what results when reproductive organs and systems as they should. There is a reason why infertility is considered a medical problem, and not a healthy outcome. In the case of infertility, one has a defect somewhere in the reproductive process, a defect to be treated and corrected. Pregnancy is different. Pregnancy(and childbirth) is what results when the reproductive process functioned as it should. Abortion, therefore, can’t be said to be “healthcare” because it deliberately interrupts and destroys what two healthily functioning bodily systems were able to achieve. The intentionally destructive nature of the abortion procedure undermines any claim to be a part of “healthcare”, because abortion doesn’t restore a bodily organ or system to working order; it undermines the bodily system.
This becomes clear if one thinks of fetal surgeries. Does it make sense to call a fetal surgery healthcare? When a doctor performs surgery on a child within the womb, is it safe to assume the surgery is being performed to correct a health defect? Then what defect is abortion supposed to correct?
Given the purposely destructive nature of abortion, calling abortion “healthcare” makes about as much sense as bathing in sewage and calling it “hygiene”. The deliberate undermining of healthily functioning biological processes refutes any claim abortion can be healthcare.
Second, claiming abortion is healthcare only makes sense if one starts off assuming the unborn is not human, and that abortion does not deliberately kill a human being. Otherwise, we end up with the bizarre conclusion that “healthcare” ends up killing a patient rather than helping them live life. If you’re dead, you’re about as far from “healthy” as you can possibly be.
In conclusion, abortion advocates need to make arguments for their claims, instead of resorting to pithy slogans to do the hard work. Pro-life advocates need to become experts at asking a simple question when any assertion is thrown out: “Why should I believe that?”
Greg Koukl provides a handy framework for interacting on controversial issues, a series of questions he calls his “Columbo Tactic”(named after the famous 1970s TV detective played by Peter Falk). Koukl proposes three questions to help navigate any conversation(regardless of topic).
Suppose you’re having a conversation with someone who makes the claim “Abortion is healthcare.” Here are some possible questions you can ask:
“What do you mean when you say ‘healthcare’? What health problem does abortion fix?”
“Why do you think abortion is healthcare? Why would you believe that?”
“Have you considered that if the unborn are human beings, then ‘healthcare’ involves killing human beings? Does that make sense?”
The point of the questions is not to silence a critic, it’s to make them think. A bold claim such as “Abortion is healthcare” shouldn’t be accepted without reason, especially if such a claim is inherently unintelligent.