Politics & Policy

Yes, Let’s Base Abortion Laws on Science

(Dreamstime photo: Alexander Raths)
And science tells us that from the moment of conception, a separate human being, with unique DNA, exists.

Millions of leftists just love to think of themselves as devoted to science. Science is the antidote to all that nasty religion on the right. These leftists live in the “reality-based community.” They make policy based on research and evidence, you see, not on the perceived whims of an invisible lord. They don’t impose their values, they just instruct Americans regarding obvious truths.

This has always been a sad joke. There are “science-based” leftists who mock Christian creationists while shunning vaccines for their kids and advocating against perfectly safe genetically modified foods. When we lived in Ithaca, N.Y., “science-based” leftists kept fluoride out of the water, making us administer doses by hand to our young children. And even the bête noire of the “science-based” Left — the continued existence of a climate-change debate — demonstrates only that conservatives (rightfully) distrust agenda-driven scientists, not science itself.

But nothing illustrates the Left’s selective application of science better than the abortion debate. This morning, the New York Times ran an op-ed titled “We Need Abortion Laws Based on Science.” Written by Ushma Upadhyay, a gynecology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, it makes the case for updating abortion regulations based on the best available science.

For example, she claims that “medication abortion is extremely safe, with less than a third of 1 percent of cases resulting in a serious adverse event” (medically aborted babies were unavailable to comment on these statistics), and she calls for legislatures to base abortion laws on “evidence.” In her telling, “evidence” indicates that legislatures should loosen restrictions on medication abortion.

But hold on there, Doc. If we’re talking science, why aren’t we talking about the baby itself? After all, doesn’t science tell us that from the moment of conception, a separate human being exists, complete with its own, unique human DNA? Doesn’t science tell us that within days, that separate human being develops separate organs, including a heart that starts beating before many women are even aware they’re pregnant?

The baby isn’t a tumor. It’s not a random clump of cells. It’s not a squirrel. What are the ethical implications of these undeniable scientific realities?

Ahh, but here’s where the hocus-pocus comes in. The reality-based community can’t quite handle the reality of the human fetus, so it waves a magic wand and says that the child may be “human,” but it is not a “person.”

A baby isn’t a real baby, the reality-based community says, when it’s inside the mother. It’s only when it moves about 18 inches that it actually becomes a person.

And how does a fetus become a person, pray tell? By applying nothing more and nothing less than the first three rules of real estate: location, location, location. A baby isn’t a real baby, the reality-based community says, when it’s inside the mother. It’s only when it moves about 18 inches that it actually becomes a person. In other words, take the identical human organism, move it less than two feet outside of the mother, and voilà! A real-live person exists.

Calling this thinking “hocus-pocus” is too charitable. It’s murderous metaphysical mumbo jumbo. There is nothing scientific about it. It’s philosophically incoherent. It’s garbage thinking.

But here we have a doctor — a scientist, even — refusing to grapple even for a moment with the single-most important scientific issue in the entire abortion debate, the humanity of the fetus. The only “science” that matters to her is the “science” that applies after all the important decisions have already been made.

When murder suddenly isn’t murder, then “science” can have lots to say about outcomes. Depopulating poor regions, decreasing the numbers of the criminal underclass, reducing the “feeble-minded,” as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wished to do — just think of all the money we can save! After all, the lifetime costs of caring for just one child with Down syndrome are astronomical – “12 to 13 times higher than a child without Down syndrome.”

#related#Here is the dark legacy of eugenics. Abortion is rooted in eugenics, and eugenics has always been about hating humanity in the name of “science.” Or, better stated, eugenics has always been about preferring junk science to real science, all for the sake of advancing the powerful at the expense of the powerless. And no one is more powerless than an unborn child. 

Upadhyay closes her piece with this precious sentence: “When policy is not based on science, American women pay the price.” How right she is. Since the Supreme Court concocted the right to murder and called it constitutional law, almost 30 million American girls were denied the chance to grow into women. That loss is incalculable, but it’s not just a loss borne by women. When abortion policy is not based on science, we all pay the price.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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