One of my first political forays into pro-life work was when I was 16, and I testified on behalf of a parental notification bill before the legislature. I remember that day clearly because I was so nervous to speak, but also fascinated by the process. There were multiple pro-life bills, including a clinic regs bill, that session, so the committee decided to hear testimony for all of them in one fell swoop. I watched as abortionist after abortionist sat before the legislators to explain that they should be able to self-regulate and that it was simply too expensive to meet the same safety requirements as other, similar, free-standing facilities.
Imagine, if you can, that the politics surrounding abortion were stripped away. Take away the emotion behind the issue and look starkly at the facts. Would you go to an orthodontist that stated they should have an exemption from basic safety standards because it was rare that a patient was injured? Can you imagine an out-patient surgical center telling you that they have an exemption from basic safety standards because it would just be too expensive to comply with them?
Would you trust these doctors? I wouldn’t. But here’s the thing: we don’t ask our doctors if they meet the basic standards- we simply trust that they do. In all the questions we may have about a procedure, we don’t usually question the building codes. We assume they are safe. We assume they are up to standards. We assume our best interests are legally protected. And when it comes to abortion, we are wrong.
But listen, if you choose to have any procedure in an unsafe facility that uses political machinations to avoid meeting basic safety standards, that’s on you. Seriously. I did my due diligence before opting to go to a tattoo parlor in New York. I know they’re unregulated and I chose to do it anyway. If you make a similar choice, so be it with your eyes wide open. Contrary to popular belief, pro-lifers really, really, really do not care what you do with your body. If you endanger yourself in an unregulated procedure, I would try to talk you out of it, but I wouldn’t stop you. What you do with your body is your own.
And that’s why, as much of a blow losing a Supreme Court case is, clinic regulationss really don’t matter. They don’t address (and subsequently the decision doesn’t address) the reason we care about abortion in the first place: which is to say, what happens to the *other* body involved. “My body, my choice” has always been one of the sillier slogans of the pro-abortion side because there’s no disagreement there. Because no matter how much you regulate the facilities that perform them, abortion will never be safe. Someone will always be killed. Our concern is the violence being done to the other human being in an abortion procedure. A procedure that hacks away a defenseless human being limb from limb. THAT is why abortion is so hotly contested. Not out of a desire to control your body, but out of necessity to protect the innocent and the weak from those who would choose to abuse their power to categorize a segment of the population as lesser. From those who would control and condemn human beings unable to speak for themselves.
I’ve always marveled at where abortion falls along political lines because the rhetoric that so strongly belongs to the left on protecting the weak and the marginalized goes out the window when we talk about the unborn. Liberals and progressives should be the champions of this issue, and yet pro-life democrats are far too often silenced within their party. This issue decides who we want to be as a culture- will we be a society that stands for the defenseless and the vulnerable? Or will we take advantage of an unborn humans lack of ability to fight back? Will we declare they’re human, but not a person, and use semantics mental gymnastics to sign their fate?
When dealing with a question of “do we or do we not kill this individual?” It matters little to the victim whether their burial ground is clean and regulated.
However, clinic regulations DO achieve cutting through the noise and the rhetoric. It’s hard to hide behind a slogan of caring about women while simultaneously demanding the right to be unregulated because…. You, know…. Reasons. Because it’s too expensive because I just don’t want to because blahblahblah. There is no good reason for abortion facilities to be exempt from scrutiny, but the very fact that they callously fight so hard against it reveals in the plain light of day exactly where their priorities lie.
They are fighting for the right to protect the next Kermit Gosnell, and this week the Supreme Court provided them cover to do so. I won’t pretend it’s not a loss, but we can’t lose sight of why we’re in this, of why we care. This case has not impeded our ability to protect unborn children or to pass laws that recognize the humanity of our smallest brothers and sisters. If anything, HB2 is a triumph in what wasn’t challenged: the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act language remains intact.
I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that this language is untouched. One can argue against clinic regulations without ever being forced to address the human being killed during an abortions. But to tackle the argument that the state doesn’t have a vested interest in protecting the life of a human being so developed as to be able to feel excruciating pain? Well, I don’t think the Court is ready to address it. And when they do, pro-lifers will be ready. One SCOTUS decision on an issue related to, but separate from our purpose will not diminish our spirits or weaken our cause. Instead what could be perceived as a setback merely refuels our determination to protect mothers and their unborn children.
And in the meantime, abortionists have been forced to defend remaining unregulated, unable to disguise the fact that the bottom line is their bottom line.
The biggest takeaway for me is that the strategy of humanity-focused legislation is effective and working. That abortion remains unregulated is sick, but that abortion remains legal is the travesty we are working to end. When we focus on our purpose, hearts and minds are changed. Violence against our fellow man is never the answer. Regulated violence is still violence: now is the time to coalesce around the strategy that is working.
P.S. If you want to learn more about the strategy that is saving lives and changing hearts and minds, please join me at the National Right to Life Convention next week, in Herndon, VA. It is worth your every effort to be there.
(Image courtesy of Andrew Bair c/o National Right to Life, on Instagram as nationalrighttolife)