Politics & Policy

The Pro-Choice Movement’s Overblown Fear of a Trump Presidency

Sen. Tom Price (Reuters photo: Joshua Roberts)
The future is not as bleak as abortion-rights supporters imagine.

Since the presidential election — and in particular since Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Georgia representative Tom Price as secretary of health and human services — the pro-choice movement has succumbed to mass hysteria, convinced that the Trump administration will wage a war on women’s fundamental “reproductive rights.” Planned Parenthood and NARAL have orchestrated online campaigns formally opposing Price as “a direct threat to women’s health and rights” who “does not trust women to make our own decisions about our health care.” The New York Times editorial board worried that that the future of America’s recent “progress in reproductive health” under President Trump looks “bleak.”

This state of terror stems from both a flawed conception of “health care” and a socialist view of the government’s responsibility to citizens. Health care is rightly understood as a system of using medicine to treat persons whose bodies are functioning as they shouldn’t. In other words, health care treats a human body that is in some way diseased. Preventive care, too, works to avoid some possible dysfunction or disease. Labeling contraception as preventive care and abortion as a form of health care assumes that pregnancy is a disease, or the result of a body functioning as it shouldn’t, when in reality pregnancy is the wholly natural result of sex; to become pregnant shows that a woman’s body is functioning properly.

The true position of those who support abortion rights is that a woman should not be pregnant if she does not want to be. That is an argument in favor of abortion, surely, if an unconvincing one. But it doesn’t mean that such a procedure can rightly be classified as “health care.” And because progressives already view health care itself as an absolute right that must be guaranteed by the government, the next logical step is to argue that abortion, too, must be protected and even provided to women by the government. This is why the Left fights back so hard against attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and why the Democratic party this year formalized the goal of abolishing the Hyde amendment so that taxpayer money can directly fund abortions.

Whether or not birth control qualifies as health care is a more complicated question, but the underlying assumption that birth control is a human right, and thus that it must be protected by the government, is similarly flawed. For one thing, many forms of birth control are cheap and readily available at every pharmacy, and some can even be obtained free at abortion clinics. There is no compelling reason that the federal government should force every employer to provide specific birth-control methods to women, at no cost to those women. Why must employers cover “free” birth control but not necessary treatments for real ailments, such as allergy or diabetes medicine? Or even explicitly life-saving treatments such as chemotherapy or epi-pens? The honest answer is this: Progressives view birth control as a fundamental right because it enables their campaign to fully separate sex from the natural consequence of procreation, just as legal abortion does.

President Trump won’t be outlawing contraception anytime soon, nor will Price, from his perch atop HHS, drastically impinge upon women’s ability to find birth control.

All of that said, pro-choicers’ general state of panic over Trump and Price will probably prove unnecessary. For one thing, it’s not evident that Trump fully agrees with the pro-life movement’s goals or tactics. He espoused the typical anti-abortion talking points during the campaign, but only as he simultaneously praised Planned Parenthood for serving millions of American women. It seems that, in his heart of hearts, Trump takes a much more positive view of the organization — and all of its “services” other than abortion — than does the average GOP politician.

Even assuming that Trump actually follows through on every promise he made to pro-life activists during the campaign, progressives should take a step back and reassess. Overturning Roe v. Wade is much more difficult than simply appointing one or two justices who may or may not rule as originalists. Though the Supreme Court has leaned conservative for the majority of the four decades since Roe, the decision has yet to be overturned. And even if it were to be overturned, abortion wouldn’t suddenly become illegal across the country; it would simply be left to the states to determine their own abortion laws.

#related#President Trump won’t be outlawing contraception anytime soon, nor will Price, from his perch atop HHS, drastically impinge upon women’s ability to find birth control. The few “horror stories” such as this one, in which women claim that their abortions were the direct result of their inability to access contraception, might note a superficially accurate connection, but they overlook the fact that women don’t magically find themselves pregnant as they stroll down the sidewalk. What’s more, this author ignores the fundamental question of whether or not it is the government’s duty to guarantee women the right to have sex totally free of consequence or financial cost. If anything, Price will restore the rightful status quo, in which birth control is not regarded as a fundamental, government-mandated right, and women are financially responsible for their own personal choice to use it.

However Trump and Price govern with respect to “reproductive rights,” women will not be forced to have back-alley abortions or be imprisoned for terminating their pregnancies. To suggest otherwise is to discredit any valid arguments abortion-rights supporters might have about Trump, making it that much easier for pro-lifers to dismiss them.

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