Politics & Policy

No, Danielle Campoamor, Abortion Is Not Pro-Life

A pregnant woman receives an ultrasound. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
To ignore the scientific reality of fetal life is to ignore the central point of contention in the abortion debate.

Abortion is not pro-life.

That this sentence even needs to be written is a testament to the hubris and overreach of modern abortion-rights activism — as each day it becomes decidedly more pro-abortion and undeniably less pro-choice.

In just over a decade, this movement of death has stealthily shifted from “safe, legal, and rare,” a tragic but necessary choice, to “shout your abortion” and abortion as a social good, to abortion as the sacrament of a truly pro-life society. How far they’ve managed to run in so little time with their “reproductive rights.”

Over the weekend, CNN published an op-ed titled “Why supporting abortion is a pro-life position,” written by feminist abortion advocate Danielle Campoamor, who, we are told in a disclaimer upfront, “received an award from Planned Parenthood for media excellence.” It shows.

It befits a Planned Parenthood awardee, after all, to pen an entire essay declaring abortion pro-life without so much as noting that the fetus killed in an abortion is, in fact, alive. Astonishingly, Campoamor never once acknowledges — let alone grapples with the ethical complications of — the scientific reality of fetal life. To completely ignore that abortion necessarily extinguishes that life is an insult to the reader’s intelligence.

Instead of engaging that rather compelling reality — which would’ve made her thesis both more frightening and more engaging, rather than largely hollow — Campoamor hinges her argument on maternal-mortality rates. She makes the well-worn case that any abortion restrictions whatsoever will inevitably march us backward to “a nation of back alleys and contorted clothes hangers.” Too bad the research she presents to support this case hews much closer to shoddy than irrefutable.

The slightest effort to pursue her hyperlinked citations reveals that her portrait of the anti-abortion hellscape looming on the horizon is not nearly as likely as her catastrophic tone suggests — nor does she prove that it ever really existed in the U.S. at all.

And yet, even as she builds her rhetorical house on this quicksand of substandard reporting and barely-there studies, she claims that placing any limits on abortion rights is inherently violent.

“It is inherently violent,” Campoamor writes, “to call for the demolition of Roe v. Wade,” because it will take us back to 1930, a year when abortion was listed as the official cause of death for 2,700 American women — 1930 was also a time before penicillin, one might note, but Campoamor, of course, does not. The Guttmacher report she cites hasn’t a single footnote for its figures. Further digging turns up no trace of these 2,700 women who supposedly died as the result of an abortion. The report also fails to make the crucial distinction between induced and spontaneous abortions, the latter of which is a medical term for a miscarriage.

“It’s violent,” Campoamor goes on, “to continue to introduce anti-abortion restrictions when a 2017 study . . . found that states with the highest abortion restrictions also have the highest maternal mortality and infant mortality rates.” Here, too, the report she cites fails to make adequate distinctions, lumping in abortion-related mortality with 40 undisclosed overall “health outcomes.” As a result, it is impossible to determine how much of a role abortion procedures and restrictions actually played in the maternal deaths cited in the study.

“It’s violent,” Campoamor asserts, “for states to pass . . . laws that close clinics and limit access to a legal medical procedure.” Her evidence here? A report from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which found that 100,000 Texas women had at some point attempted self-induced abortions. But she omits key details: The report itself says, “Abortion self-induction is not common in Texas,” the women identified account for less than 2 percent of all Texas women of reproductive age, and the report fails to correlate its findings with the state’s implementation of safety regulations for abortion clinics.

Though this is by no means a full account of how Campoamor fudges her numbers and repeatedly links to the same few reports, such evasions are typical of her argument. It is inexcusable for a writer to cite unsubstantiated data and portray reports as having conclusively proven her point when that isn’t the case.

But these rhetorical frailties are nowhere near as discrediting as Campoamor’s intentional omission of the central point of contention in the abortion debate: For “anti-abortion zealots,” as she terms them, abortion can never be “pro-life” precisely because it ends a life. Basic biology, not ethics or religion, verifies that position.

Pro-life advocates dispute the notion that women’s health requires a regime of mass fetal death — more than 55 million deaths over the last four decades alone. To ignore this is to ignore the entire debate.

It’s worthwhile to debate the ethics of how we should balance the competing rights at stake in abortion, placing the rights of the mother at odds with those of her fetus (though they need not be at odds). But Campoamor attempts to make a utilitarian calculation in favor of women’s bodily autonomy without ever placing the competing value of fetal life on the other side of the scale.

No pro-life person “endorses the unnecessary deaths of women,” as she contends. They dispute the notion that women’s health requires a regime of mass fetal death — more than 55 million deaths over the last four decades alone. To ignore this is to ignore the entire debate.

Without ever conceding the science of embryology — or at least the good-faith arguments of her ideological opponents — Campoamor maintains that abortion must remain available until the moment of birth, for any reason, even when the fetus is capable of feeling pain and surviving outside its mother. And yet she accuses the anti-abortion movement of violence.

Perhaps Campoamor is unfamiliar with the medical details of what happens to a fetus during an abortion procedure. It is inherently violent, I’d argue, to use a suction machine to forcibly vacuum the living human fetus, part by part and limb by limb, from its mother’s womb.

It is inherently violent to inject a saline solution into a mother’s womb to kill the human fetus and deliver it once it has died.

It is inherently violent to lethally inject a human fetus with potassium chloride and wait for it to die slowly from the poison before dismembering it for removal.

It is inherently violent to use suction and forceps to cut apart a living human fetus, piece by piece, and remove it from its mother.

It is inherently violent to partially deliver a viable fetus and pierce its skull to remove the contents of its head just moments before birth.

Abortion is violence. And it can never be pro-life.

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