The Abortion Debate That Never Was

On the pro-choice side of the abortion debate are those who believe that having a child is a matter of choice. A woman’s body belongs to herself, not to men, not to society, not to government, not to a Supreme Court, and not to religion controlled by men, who down through the ages have used every social, legal, political, and religious institution to control and oppress her in keeping with the biblical injunction of “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).

This is merely one of at least 100 quotations from the Old and New Testaments enjoining women’s obedience to men. However, times have changed and women have come of age and refuse to be intimidated by guilt induced by any institution controlled by men that presumes to know the Will of God.

According to this traditional view, a woman’s primary purpose is to bring forth young to perpetuate her husband’s name and transfer property to the next generation. “A woman’s right to choose,” therefore, must be seen within this broader historical context of a condition of servitude and subjugation into which she was born.

“Biology is destiny,” and because she was female, she was seen as a breeder of children, a destiny which many women today dismiss as an anachronistic relic of a Stone-Age mentality, which regrettably still exists in these modern times.

Modern women refuse to accept what they see as an antiquated notion of themselves as “breeding machines,” a demeaning view which denies them the right to be their own persons with the autonomy to develop themselves howsoever they choose.

No man, woman, or institution has the right to tell her how she should or shouldn’t live her life, or what to do with her body, or weaponize guilt to ensure her compliance to an outdated patriarchal view of women.

How would men feel if they were commanded to have vasectomies? What’s good for the goose is also good for the gander!

It is a woman’s choice alone to give birth or not to give birth, no matter how much pro-lifers emotionalize the issue by calling a routine procedure of terminating a pregnancy “murdering her child.”

If she chooses to give birth, it is her choice alone; if she doesn’t, that is also her choice alone. It is all about choice and her innate right of personal freedom to choose for herself.

This is a new cultural paradigm, a new consciousness that has been emerging over decades in the women’s rights movement that many fail to understand, including pro-life women who should know better instead of rationalizing their subordination to males.

This, in essence, is the pro-choice argument.


Those on the pro-life side of the debate argue that abortion is murder, infanticide, the killing of human life in the womb. They have never forgotten those four ancient words indelibly inscribed on their memory as children, “Thou shalt not kill,” for this is what abortion is. They see abortion not as a matter of choice, but as a matter of morality, as one of the Ten Commandments, the express will of God.

Pro-life women are the modern Antigones, who must honor the law of heaven against the Creons of this world, for if murdering a defenseless infant in the womb is permitted, then every murder is permitted.

It doesn’t matter that the clinical terms of a “routine procedure of terminating a pregnancy” or “fetus” are strategically employed as distancing mechanisms to disguise the horror of a living, breathing human child being torn apart, piece by piece, in a mother’s womb, not even to speak of the everlasting guilt which will haunt her for the rest of her life.

It is for this reason that pro-life proponents don’t see abortion as about “the rights of a woman” at all, but as “the rights of the child” alive in her womb, a child she now wants to dispose of like everything else in this throwaway world.

Abortion is murder and has nothing to do with the “rights of a woman,” a phrase intended to distract from the real issue of a mother’s murdering her own child because it is a deed too terrible to admit to herself. So, by a legalistic sleight-of-hand, she changes the subject to one of “rights” because the guilt of killing her own baby is too much to bear.

The pro-choice view of abortion as being anything but murder simply rationalizes a mother’s killing her child by calling it “a woman’s right to choose,” when in fact she has chosen. She chose to have sex without contraceptives, and she must now bear the consequences by having that child, and then either keeping it or giving it up for adoption. The exceptions, of course, are rape, incest, or danger to her health.

Terminating the pregnancy,” a euphemism for infanticide, is never justified for reasons of “personal convenience,” be it career, loss of comfortable lifestyle, or personal freedom.

This pro-choice view refuses to acknowledge these self-serving motives as the actual reasons for having an abortion, so its proponents change the subject to one of “rights,” filtered through an ideological narrative of patriarchal hegemony, as though women over the centuries never wanted children themselves, but only in obedience to their husbands’ wishes.

When mothers no longer want their own infants but choose to murder them because these infants would interfere with their life of convenience, career, lifestyle, or freedom, a society has sunk to the lowest state of depravity, no matter how much that society is in denial or seeks to normalize murder. If a child in the womb isn’t sacred, then nothing in this world is sacred, and we have abandoned our very humanity.

So runs the pro-life argument.

This, in brief, is an outline of both sides of the question, but the point is that each side has a case to make with much room for debate, a public debate which this country has never had nor wanted.

Why would anyone want to protest against the other side’s right to present its case, not just about the abortion debate, but about any debate about which the other side also feels deeply?

Wouldn’t debating such questions be fairer than simply protesting against them or resorting to ad hominem arguments against those who disagreed?  If both sides feel that their cause is right, why not simply debate the issue publicly in mutual respect?  It certainly would give each side a more nuanced understanding of each other’s position and perhaps even mitigate whatever acrimony might attach itself to such a contentious issue.

Each would discover that there were sincerely held principles on both sides of this question and, even though those on each side might not finally agree, they would at least be better able to understand how those on the other side had honestly arrived at their respective truth.

Frank Breslin is a retired high-school teacher in the New Jersey public school system. Read other articles by Frank.