What Is the Value of Human Life?

COMMENTARY Life

What Is the Value of Human Life?

Jun 13, 2022 4 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Thomas Jipping

Senior Legal Fellow, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

Thomas is a senior legal fellow for the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.
President Ronald Reagan wrote that the “real question today is not when human life begins, but, what is the value of human life?” sankai / Gety Images

Key Takeaways

The WHPA would gar far beyond Roe, attempting to prohibit any government anywhere from doing anything that might, potentially or indirectly, reduce abortions.

Leading feminists once embraced, rather than repudiated, the truth about women and babies.

Abortion kills babies, and its advocates are loudly telling us the value they place on human life.

In his 1983 essay “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation,” President Ronald Reagan wrote that the “real question today is not when human life begins, but, what is the value of human life?” That will always be the real question, and it is the one question that abortion advocates will do anything to avoid answering. The so-called Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) and a new set of “abortion messaging do’s and don’t” from the House of Representatives Pro Choice Caucus are their latest attempt to avoid the “inconvenient truth” that abortion kills babies.

On May 11, for the second time in less than three months, the Senate voted against allowing consideration of the WHPA. Its sponsors want you to believe that the bill would simply “codify Roe v. Wade” in case, as appears likely, the Supreme Court overrules that decision, which created the right to abortion. In fact, the WHPA would gar far beyond Roe, attempting to prohibit any government anywhere from doing anything that might, potentially or indirectly, reduce the likelihood that abortions will actually take place.

Not only that, the WHPA would require every state and local government to repeal any existing laws, regulations, rules, anything that also could have that effect. Members of Congress, who take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, should know that Congress has no authority to dictate how state and local governments exercise powers that the Constitution gives them.

Even in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court acknowledged that abortion affects two human beings, referring multiple times to “unborn children,” “pregnant women,” and even “mother.” In fact, the Court said that the presence of the unborn child made abortion “inherently different” than other rights. As radical as the WHPA is, as recently as 2017, it referred a dozen times to “woman” and multiple times to “child.” The bill stated its purpose as protecting “a woman’s right and ability to determine whether and when to bear a child.”

>>> EVENT: Life After Roe Symposium

That, however, was too close to reality for current abortion extremists. The WHPA introduced last year expands its focus from pregnant women to “people with the capacity for pregnancy.” These include “cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, [and] those who identify with a different gender.” The bill entertains these hypothetical categories while completely deleting any suggestion, hint, or whisper of the actual human being—the unborn child—who actually exists. The bill even scrapped its prior definition of abortion because it referred to a “live birth” (of what?) and a “dead fetus” (that must once have been alive).

Leading feminists once embraced, rather than repudiated, the truth about women and babies. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, for example, published The Revolution magazine from 1868 to 1872, regularly arguing that the law should treat abortion for what it is, “child murder.” The first women to enter the medical profession separated killing babies from health care for women; Dr. Charlotte Lozier, for example, campaigned both against abortion and for women’s rights. Women, er, potentially pregnant people have come a long way, but not necessarily in the right direction.

Then there are the abortion spinmeisters. Organizations promoting abortion have long produced various manuals, guides, and recommendations for “abortion messaging.” The latest instructions on this is a list of “do’s and don’ts” from the House Pro-Choice Caucus with examples of “harmful” and “helpful” language. The confusion, however, starts right at the top. The Pro-Choice Caucus’s first example of harmful language is the word “choice.” Wait, what? Hasn’t choice been lynchpin of the abortion movement’s messaging for the last 50 years? Last September, in defending the WHPA, members of the Pro-Choice Caucus routinely described abortion as a “deeply personal choice” and pro-life legislators as “anti-choice.” According to the Pro-Choice Caucus’s latest guidelines, however, Caucus members were actually using harmful language that, no doubt unbeknownst to them at the time, was undermining their own cause.

The Pro-Choice Caucus now rejects another of the movement’s longstanding clarion calls. In 1992, then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton said that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” The Democratic Platform that year endorsed “reproductive choice” (there’s that word again) including “the right to safe, legal abortion.” Four years later, with Clinton running for re-election, the platform said: “Our goal is to make abortion less necessary and more rare.” The Democratic platform made the same point in the next two cycles, with the 2004 document stating directly: “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.” Hillary Clinton even used the same phrase during her 2008 presidential campaign.

>>> We Have a Duty To Protect the Unborn

Not anymore. The 2008 and 2012 Democratic platforms dropped “rare,” while still endorsing efforts to “reduce abortions.” But since 2012, abortion advocates have embraced killing babies as fully legitimate all by itself. Signs at their rallies and protests often say “Abortion On Demand and without Apology.” The Pro-Choice Caucus also rejects any suggestion that abortion should be rare; its website even include a photograph of caucus members on the Capitol steps holding signs that read “Abortion Is Essential” and “Liberate Abortion.”

We cannot avoid answering the question Reagan asked almost four decades ago about the value of human life by pretending that human beings never existed before they were born or that men can somehow become pregnant, or by using some new words suggested by the latest focus group. Abortion kills babies, and its advocates are loudly telling us the value they place on human life.

This piece originally appeared in Christian Renewal Magazine