Fact #4: It is just, reasonable, and necessary for society to outlaw certain choices.Print This Page
The only way people can successfully live together in community is to give up a measure of personal freedom. Personal choices that infringe on the life or livelihood of another human being must be legislated against. Therefore, it is impossible to justify abortion by simply arguing that women should be “free to choose.”
The fundamental role of every government is to provide security for its citizens and to maintain public order. This cannot be done without legislating against certain choices. Even in free countries, citizens are not free to choose in any absolute sense. Some choices are lawful and some are not, which is why it is impossible to justify abortion by simply arguing that women should be “free to choose”.
This, of course, has not stopped people from building their defense of abortion on the abstract defense of choice. You’ll hear things like, “This is a free country…You can’t legislate morality… My body, my choice!” In fact, many abortion-rights advocates will openly admit that abortion is “bad,” only to turn around and argue that women must be free to make their own decisions, even if they’re bad ones. On the surface that might sound noble. You’re giving people a choice. You’re letting them decide what’s right for themselves, even giving them the freedom to fall.
The problem is, there is a big difference between a “bad” decision and a “criminal” decision. Getting sun burned is a bad decision. Burning your neighbors house down is a criminal decision. Refusing to study for a big test is bad. Refusing to stop when there is a pedestrian in the street is criminal. The law generally leaves people the legal freedom to make bad choices, but the law must do all it can to prohibit criminal choices.
So how do we decide what “bad” choices should be left to the discretion of the individual and what “bad” choices should be regulated by law? It’s actually quite simple. If you look to the scenarios above, it’s not hard to find the common denominator. Whenever bad choices inflict injury or harm on others, they become criminal choices. Drinking too much alcohol is bad. Driving drunk is criminal. This is why citizens are generally free to smoke in their home or car, but not free to smoke in all sorts of public places. Inflicting harm upon yourself is one thing. Inflicting harm upon someone else is quite another.
“Choice” is not always good…
As it relates to abortion, the heart of the issue has nothing to do with choice. It has everything to do with what is being chosen. Therefore, when people insist on being called “pro-choice” instead of “pro-abortion,” they’re not being honest. Why? Because there are countless other issues for which abortion supporters are decidedly not pro-choice. Laws against rape, murder, theft, and assault are all “anti-choice,” and yet no one criticizes these prohibitions for taking away the freedom to choose.
When someone says they’re “pro-choice,” what they mean is that they support the right to choose abortion. That’s the only thing on the table. Nobody is debating the right to parent the child or place the child for adoption. We’re all agreed on those. Abortion is the single point of contention. So why not just say “pro-abortion”? Are they ashamed to even be associated with the word? Gay-marriage advocates don’t seem to have a problem admitting they’re “Pro-gay marriage.”
By all appearances, abortion-advocates are attempting to distance themselves from the actual act of abortion, by arguing that they don’t support abortion, they only support a women’s legal right to choose abortion. But does that change anything? Is there a moral distinction between supporting abortion and supporting the right to abortion?
“I’m not pro-slavery, I just think people should have the choice to own slaves…”
What if the context were shifted? Imagine if the same distinctions were applied to slavery. Would we admire the tolerance and neutrality of someone who said, “I’m not pro-slavery, I just think people should have the choice to own slaves.”?
Just as there is no meaningful difference between being “pro-choice” about slavery and being “pro-slavery,” there is no meaningful difference between being “pro-choice” about abortion and being “pro-abortion.” The next time someone tells you they’re pro-choice, ask them what “choice” they’re referring to. Guess what their answer will be.
If abortion is a morally-neutral choice, like getting your hair cut or having a tooth pulled, then obviously women should be free to choose it. But if abortion is a not a morally-neutral choice, if it is more akin to cutting off someone’s arm or pulling their head off (which abortion often does), then it must be stringently opposed by law!
And don’t forget that in 99% of all abortions, the woman having the abortion chose to have sexual intercourse. Therefore, it could just as easily be argued that these women already made their choice when they chose to engage in behavior that often leads to pregnancy.
Abortion does not keep a woman from being pregnant. It simply ends the pregnancy of an already pregnant woman by killing the embryo or fetus living within her.
Abortion itself can’t be defended so the focus is shifted to “choice”…
The abortion industry has long known that abortion is almost impossible to defend in itself. There is simply no getting around the fact that it kills a living, genetically-distinct human being. Defending abortion on the basis of choice has proved a far more profitable strategy for them. But it only works so long as people are under-informed as to what abortion actually does to innocent human beings.
When it’s an abstract “bad,” people can live with it. Abortion, to them, is a “necessary evil.” But when abortion is accurately understood, it ceases to be “bad,” it becomes “barbaric.” And if it’s bad enough to make its most ardent defenders leery of wearing its label, shouldn’t that tell us something about the procedure itself?
The only way people can successfully live together in community is to give up a measure of personal freedom. Personal choices that infringe on the life or livelihood of another human being must be legislated against. Nobody argues that a man should be free to choose when the context is sexual assault. What a fool he would be to try and justify rape by saying, “My body, my choice.”
In a perfect world, laws would be unnecessary. We would all love our neighbor and regulate our behavior accordingly, but we don’t live in that world. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.
Nothing short of anarchy can guarantee the perfect freedom of choice, and so anyone who makes “choice” the basis of their defense for legal abortion is either ignorant or dishonest.
Any civilized society restricts the individual’s freedom to choose whenever that choice would harm an innocent person.
When I present the pro-life position on school campuses, I often begin by saying, “I’ve been introduced as being pro-life, but I want to make clear that I’m really pro-choice. I believe that a person has the right to do whatever she wants with her own body. It’s none of our business what choice she makes, and we have no right to impose our morals on others. Whether I like someone’s choices or not is irrelevant. She should have the freedom to make her own choices.”
I’m normally greeted by surprised looks and audible affirmation, including smiles, nods, and even applause. I have used the sacred buzzwords of the pro-choice movement—rights, freedom, and choice. I have sounded tolerant, open-minded, and fair. Then I say this:
‘Yes, I’m pro-choice. That’s why I believe every man has the right to rape a woman if that is his choice. After all, it’s his body, and neither you nor I have the right to tell him what to do with it. He’s free to choose, and it’s none of our business what choice he makes. We have no right to impose our morals on him. Whether I like the choice or not, he should have the freedom to make his own choices.”
After I let the shock settle in a bit, I explain that I am not really pro-choice when it comes to rape. I ask them to point out the fallacy of the “it’s his body and he can choose what he wants” argument. They realize that in emphasizing the man’s right to choose, I have completely ignored the rights of the innocent woman. My hope is that they also realize it is not always a virtue to be pro-choice.
All laws impose a moral viewpoint and restrict the individual’s behavior. This is true of laws against drunk driving and child abuse. Laws against false advertising restrict a businessman’s right to free speech. Laws against discrimination infringe on the freedom of choice of those who would treat minorities unfairly.
When others’ rights are at stake—and particularly when their very lives are at stake—any decent society must restrict the individual’s freedom of choice. Is an innocent person being damaged by a woman’s choice to have an abortion? If not, no problem. If so, it is a major problem that society cannot afford to ignore. Any law that prohibits the fatal victimization of another person is by nature a just law.
“Freedom to choose” is too vague for meaningful discussion; we must always ask, “Freedom to choose what?”
It is absurd to defend a specific choice merely on the basis that it is a choice. Yet if you read the literature and listen to the talk shows, you know that this is constantly done by pro-choice activists. “The right to choose” is a magic slogan that seems to make all choices equally legitimate.
When we oppose the right to choose rape or child abuse, we aren’t opposing a right; we’re opposing a wrong. And we’re not narrow-minded and bigoted for doing so. We’re just decent people concerned for the rights of the innocent. To be pro-choice about someone’s right to kill is to be anti-choice about someone else’s right to live.
Everyone is pro-choice when it comes to the choices prior to pregnancy and after birth.
Men and women are free to choose to abstain from sex or to use birth control or to do neither. But when a woman is pregnant, the choice she has made has produced a new human being. As one woman has pointed out: 
After a woman is pregnant, she cannot choose whether or not she wishes to become a mother. She already is, and since the child is already present in her womb, all that is left to her to decide is whether she will deliver her baby dead or alive.
Once the baby is born, the woman is again free to choose: She can keep the child or give him up for adoption. The choice pro-lifers oppose is the choice that takes an innocent life.
Nearly all violations of human rights have been defended on the grounds of the right to choose.
The slaveowners in this country a century and a half ago were pro-choice. They said:
You don’t have to own slaves if you don’t want to, but don’t tell us we can’t choose to. It’s our right.
Those who wanted slaveholding to be illegal were accused of being anti-choice and anti-freedom, and of imposing their morality on others.
The civil rights movement, like the abolitionist movement one hundred years earlier, vehemently opposed the exercise of personal rights that much of society defended. It was solidly anti-choice when it came to racial discrimination.
Whites historically had a free choice to own slaves and later to have segregated lunch counters if they so chose. After all, America was a free country. But the civil rights movement fought to take away that free choice from them. Likewise, the women’s movement fought to take away an employer’s free choice to discriminate against women.
Nearly every movement of oppression and exploitation—from slavery, to prostitution, to pornography, to drug dealing, to abortion—has labeled itself pro-choice. Likewise, opposing movements offering compassion and deliverance have been labeled antichoice by the exploiters. At least with prostitution, pornography, and drugs, the victim usually has some choice.
In the case of abortion, the victim has no choice. He is society’s most glaring exception to all the high-sounding rhetoric about the right to choose and the right to live one’s life without interference from others.
The pro-choice position always overlooks the victim’s right to choose. The women don’t choose rape. The blacks didn’t choose slavery. The Jews didn’t choose the ovens. And the babies don’t choose abortion.
Any civilized society restricts the individual’s freedom to choose whenever that choice would harm an innocent person. Therefore, it is impossible to justify abortion by simply arguing that women should be “free to choose.”