Thursday, May 1, 2014

Missouri Legislators Working to Pass 72 Hour Wait Period for Abortions

According to this article, conservative Missouri legislators are working to pass a bill requiring a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed. The current wait period is 24 hours.

Opponents of the bill argue that having a longer wait period makes it difficult or even prohibitive for women to get an abortion, especially if they must travel long distances to an abortion facility. In Missouri, the only abortion facility is in St. Louis. For many women, the three day wait time means travelling and then staying in the city for that period, which might be cost prohibitive. They argue that this places an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions and that a wait period won't change a woman's mind anyway.

Proponents of the bill, however, are not making the right arguments for it. The Missouri Speaker of the House, Tim Jones, says “I don’t think 72 hours, 3 days, is too much time to bring another life into this world or not."

That is about the lamest argument he could have made!

The biggest problem is that he's conceding ground to the pro-abortion crowd by his sloppy use of language. He's talking about abortion as if it's a choice to bring a child into the world or not. It isn't! The child already exists. The question isn't whether a child will be brought into the world or not. The question is whether the existing child will be killed or not. We have to use the right terminology if we are to win this culture war.

Talking about the unborn as if they aren't yet human beings only strengthens our opposition. If abortion really was just a choice of whether or not to bring a child into the world, there would be nothing wrong with it, and government shouldn't be interfering with a woman's choice. But since an unborn child is a human life that has already begun, government does have a responsibility to protect that life. This is the argument we need to be making. Treating the unborn as only "potential humans" undermines the pro-life position completely. Potential humans don't have rights. Actual humans do.

Of course, even if a politician wants to hide the real goal of abolishing abortion completely in order to get more people on board for the legislation, the argument Jones made was still totally lame. His statement was nothing more than his opinion that three days was an acceptable wait time. But he made absolutely no argument for why a wait time (or increase in wait time) was a good idea. Why should a woman have to wait three days to get an abortion?

There are only two possible rationales for making a woman wait to get an abortion. The first is to ensure that she is fully informed about the true nature of the procedure, including the risks to herself and what the procedure does to her child. The second is to allow her time to think about her decision and to look for other options. Both of these really come down to a hope that women will change their minds and choose not to abort. In general, the longer you give a woman to think about it, the more women will change their minds. This is why the abortion industry (including Planned Parenthood) ardently opposes wait times. It affects their bottom line. Because many women get an abortion in a hurry, out of panic or pressure from family or friends, a wait period gives a woman time to find other options, to learn the truth about pregnancy and development, and to combat pressure from others.

If a politician is going to advocate for wait periods before abortions, he or she ought to be able to articulate these reasons. Here is what Representative Jones should have said (if he was going to be political and avoid speaking the whole truth in order to get votes): "Women often get abortions because they feel trapped or scared or overwhelmed because of a crisis pregnancy. Because we want to ensure that women are making informed decisions, we want to allocate a sufficient amount of time for women to learn about their options and the risks of the procedure and to make a completely informed choice." That is far more likely to result in the desired legislation than what he actually said.

Of course, committing abortion is a violation of human rights, whether a woman waits before doing it or not. So a waiting period doesn't actually get at the heart of the issue. But sometimes one has to be circumspect in order to save lives. The real goal needs to be ending the legal destruction of human lives in the womb. Until then, we must save as many as we can.

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