The Corner

Politics & Policy

Chelsea Clinton Makes a Terrible Argument for Abortion

Chelsea Clinton has some thoughts about the economic consequences of Roe v. Wade:

“Whether you fundamentally care about reproductive rights and access right, because these are not the same thing, if you care about social justice or economic justice, agency — you have to care about this.

“It is not a disconnected fact — to address this t-shirt of 1973 — that American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added three and a half trillion dollars to our economy. Right?

“The net, new entrance of women — that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973.”

“So, I think, whatever it is that people say they care about, I think that you can connect to this issue.

“Of course, I would hope that they would care about our equal rights and dignity to make our own choices – but, if that is not sufficiently persuasive, hopefully, come some of these other arguments that you’ve expressed so beautifully, will be.”

The problem with this argument, obviously, is that it is entirely unresponsive to the debate over abortion, which is not economic in nature, but moral. If unborn children are not living human beings — and if, therefore, it doesn’t matter if they are aborted — then obviously one will be in favor of abortion, especially if it leads to salutary economic news. If, by contrast, unborn children are living human beings — and if, therefore, aborting them is tantamount to murder — then the utilitarian argument is flatly irrelevant. Saying “but look at the effects of killing unborn children on GDP!” to a person who believes that unborn children are living human beings is futile. In no moral universe are they going to make that trade.

And nor, for that matter, would the person making the case. Presumably Chelsea Clinton believes it is wrong to murder human beings ex utero. If so, she knows how she’d react to someone saying, “Whether you fundamentally care about murder or not, you should be able to connect with the fact that killing one in ten Los Angelenos will ease the traffic and reduce the Medicaid rolls.” And if Clinton doesn’t know that — if, in other words, she holds the hyper-utilitarian view that abortion is murder but it’s worth it for an additional three-and-a-half trillion dollars — well, then she’s a monster.

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