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Tax Funding for Slavery? ...Then Why for Abortion?

Libertarians for Life
Copyright 1982, Detroit News, reprinted with permission

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["The following editorial appeared in the Feb. 9 issue of the Detroit News. We found the reasoning so sound, its analysis so piercing we requested permission to reprint it." -- National Right to Life News, March 11, 1982.]

Medicaid Abortions

The Michigan Legislature is facing Governor Milliken's 11th veto of a measure to restrict public funding of abortions. Two-thirds majorities are needed in both chambers to override the governor.

Permit a pertinent digression.

President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Abraham Lincoln in the White House, opposed slavery more than 100 years ago for what we today might consider morally oblique reasons. It wasn't that he minded the wrong done to blacks. He was concerned that slavery bred unwholesome class distinctions among whites by creating privileges for the rich. Mr. Johnson once "wish[ed] to God [that] every head of a family in the United States had one slave to take the drudgery and menial service off his family."

If the principle of "equal protection under the laws" were applied to slavery as the pro-choicers apply it to the issue of Medicaid abortions today, Andrew Johnson might have gotten his wish. We can almost hear the congressmen of that day declaiming on their "personal" opposition to human bondage, but voting for slavery subsidies because "if the rich can have them, the poor should have access to them, too."

Before the spiritual descendants of Andrew Johnson cast their vote with the governor, they might consider the practical effects of continued funding for abortions. The moral issue involved can be set aside for the moment.

Since Congress restricted federal funding, there has been virtually no drop-off in the number of abortions obtained. Indeed, with the most permissive abortion law outside of he Communist bloc, the United States has experienced steady increases in the number of abortions performed. Thus, the argument that poor women need subsidies to obtain abortions is a weak one.

Too, there is evidence that "free" abortions are becoming the contraceptive of first resort for some poor women. Only those avant-garde moralists who describe all fetal life as "tissue" can be comfortable with the idea that women are choosing multiple abortions over easily obtainable contraceptive devices.

Opposition to abortion, despite all the carefully timed polling data, is widespread and deeply ingrained. It is at least as well-organized as the abolitionist movement of a century ago, and it has more grass-roots support. (Historians say committed abolitionists constituted a tiny minority of the population.) By continuing to fight for abortion funding in state Legislatures and in Congress, the pro-choice lobby is taking its stand on very shaky ground. Even the most purposeful polling services have been unable to devise questions that show a majority of Americans in support of public funding for abortions. If anything, the funding issue has exacerbated tensions and resentments. Lawmakers who wish the whole abortion controversy would go away know this. That's why a majority in Lansing has voted 11 times to restrict funding.

Why, indeed, does the pro-choice lobby insist on state funding? Wouldn't it be wiser simply to take a stand, with the 1973 Supreme court, for legalized abortions?

Well, it's not as simple as that. Pro-abortionists, who are the shock troops of the pro-choice movement, want the official sanction that only state funding provides. They fear that if pro-life forces win on funding and step up their educational efforts, they may increase further the grave doubts of the larger populace.

More and more people might begin to question whether a six-month-old fetus is all that different than a six-month-old baby born prematurely. They might wonder if the highest abortion rate in the West is a distinction the United States really wants. They might ponder the ironies of a medical practice that on the one hand performs life-saving operations on fetuses and on the other rips them out and throws them away like garbage. They might grow squeamish as scientists tell them more and more about the nature of fetal life -- its capacity to feel excruciating pain, for example.

Those lawmakers in Lansing who believe, along with the militant pro-abortionists, that the fetus is merely "tissue," of no more positive consequence than a tumor, will have no trouble voting to sustain the governor's veto.

We here address those legislators who question this notion, but who solve the ethical problem by telling themselves they are voting for equal protection for the poor.

"Equal protection" in this instance is a canard.

Vote to override.

[This editorial is reprinted with the permission of the Detroit News.]




LFL explains and defends the libertarian case against abortion choice. Our reasoning is expressly scientific and philosophical rather than either pragmatic or religious, or merely political or emotional.

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