Three reasons the ‘back alley’ abortion argument fails


Abortion is the most important human rights issue of our time, not only because it has accounted for the deaths of over 56 million people in the United States since the unconstitutional, immoral, reprehensible Supreme Court decision in 1973, but also because it has garnered the support of around half of the country. One of the major political parties in our nation not only paraded the CEO of the largest abortion provider in the country around as a hero at their convention but felt the need to also have the president of NARAL speak as well (this is the organization that hates unborn children so much, they lashed out at a Doritos commercial that “humanized” an unborn child). The abortion culture has shifted from simply being pro-choice (it’s up to the woman) to actually being pro-abortion (an abortion is a valiant thing) right before our eyes.

In a previous post, I showed the absurdity of three popular pro-choice arguments. I believe we have an obligation to show the ridiculousness and intellectual dishonesty of pro-choice arguments. One argument is what many call a “scare tactic.” It’s called the back-alley argument, and it goes something like this:

If we make abortion illegal, we’re forcing these women to get their abortions in dirty places with dirty instruments. That is only going to hurt them. They’re going to do it anyway; it might as well be in a safe, clean environment. 

Let’s look at three reasons why this argument is bad…

1. It’s a Myth.

Obviously, our first step is to verify the claim being made — mainly, that if we outlaw abortion, women who want abortions will get them anyway, and do it unsafely. We shouldn’t accept this pro-choice platitude without thought. It is based on a lie that the former president of NARAL and his co-founders made up to help repeal restrictive abortion laws. The year before Roe v. Wade, there were actually 39 cases of maternal fatalities in the United States. While these deaths are tragic, this is a far cry from the 10,000 NARAL claimed.

Surveys have shown that at the very highest, 20% of women obtaining an abortion would do so illegally if it were illegal.

The data doesn’t support the back alley argument. The majority of women getting an abortion would most likely not get one if it were illegal.

2. Even if it were true, it doesn’t mean abortion should be legal.

Let’s grant for the sake of the argument that if we made abortion illegal, the vast majority of the women wanting an abortion would do so regardless. Does the argument still hold weight? No.

Let’s apply this argument to another crime – how about murder? (I know, same crime, but work with me.) Imagine someone you know argued for the legalization of murder. They’d say, “Right now, people that want to kill other people have to try and hide it and typically that includes unsafe and unsanitary practices. What we should do to help is make murder legal so that people can take their victims to a murder clinic and kill them there under the supervision of a trained medical professional. After all, they’re going to do it anyway; why wouldn’t we make a safer option? What if their victim decides to fight back? We can’t have that.”

Obviously, you’d think they were joking. Nobody argues that because a crime is dangerous to commit, it should be legal, or that murder should be legal as long as it is done safely and in a sanitary way. In what world is any activity (legal or not) that will result in injury or the loss of life deemed safe? Smoking is legal, yet hardly anyone alive, except for an antiquated Lucky Strike advertisement, says smoking is safe. Mountain climbing, skydiving, base jumping, and professional football are all legal activities (in most circumstances) yet no one really argues that they’re “safe” activities. Legality is not an argument for safety.

So what do pro-choicers mean by ‘safe’? Obviously, they misuse the word. A safe abortion, to them, means a woman’s child is killed and she survives. There’s really nothing safe about it, but to admit that a “fetus” is an unborn child is a repugnant admission to pro-choicers (hence the NARAL-Doritos fiasco). Did the general public watch the commercial and think,  “How dare they! That’s not a baby! Ugh, I’m going to be sick to my stomach”? No, because whether they realize it or not, the general public knows deep down that an unborn child is just that: a child.

We don’t accept an argument for murder based on the sanitary conditions legal murder might offer, so why do we accept the same argument in favor of abortion? Perhaps it’s because murder doesn’t carry with it political connotations. A politician never has to describe their stance on murder. Debate moderators don’t ask, “Please explain your stance on murder… is it wrong to murder, or is it up to the choice of the murderer?” No one labels themselves anti-murder. In our society, being anti-murder is a given… unless it involves an unborn child. Then it’s up to policy debates, confused politicians, and Roe v. Wade.

Not only is the back-alley argument a myth, it’s truthfulness should ultimately bear no weight on the legality of abortion.

3. Abortion Clinics Are Not Clean and Safe.

Finally, the back alley argument assumes that abortion clinics are safe for women. Leaving aside the fact that about 50% of the time, an abortion ends the life of a (preborn) woman and the other 50% ends the life of a (preborn) man, this assumption is false for a few reasons.

First, abortion clinics have been documented doing atrocious things to women like pressuring women into having abortionsoffering to assist pimps to procure abortions for underage, trafficked women, and offering to cover up the rape of underage women.

These are only a few of the many things abortion facilities do in order to perform as many abortions as possible. By simply noting the three things above, it is clear that abortion clinics are not safe places for women. However, it is also important that we never assume the cleanliness of abortion facilities. They have been caught operating in extremely sub-par conditions.

Reports of facilities in Virginia found disgusting violations at multiple locations. One had comments like, “The freezer which is used to store the collected conception material, had blood and unbagged conception material frozen to the inner bottom surface,” and “Multiple use [sic] of a single-use product and failing to disinfect the single use vacutainer needle holders between lab patient draws.” Those vacutainer needle holders really are an afterthought for abortion clinics, as multiple other facilities in this report either left blood in the holders or simply didn’t clean them.

Illinois doesn’t fare any better. Out of the 28 abortion clinics in the state12 have never had a full health inspection. To make matters worse, of the 16 that have had full inspections, only 5 of them have had a full inspection within the last 4 years. And just because they had a health inspection doesn’t mean that everything is going well in these facilities. Some of the findings show facilities “[f]ailed to ensure medication syringes were labeled and stored in a safe, clean area. This has the potential to affect up to 100% of patients,” and “observed loose debris on the floor, a red stain on the wall, and standing water in a small bucket.

These are just a few of the findings in a couple states. I’ll spare you the details.

These facilities are unsanitary, unclean, and don’t want to be held accountable to health standards. Just this year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt that a state (Texas in this case) cannot hold abortion facilities to common sense standards for the safety of the patients. While this decision obviously has some constitutional problems, there’s something far more concerning at hand: the writing on the wall. Abortion centers care little about the health of the women that visit their facilities. The apparent “trouble” with these standards was that some facilities would have had to close because they were so sub-par (like the ones above) that they wouldn’t have been able to stay open. If a facility cannot maintain simple health standards (leaving aside the whole infanticide part of it) then it should not remain open! This seems so simple, yet we are dealing with the pro-choice movement.

Some might argue that the only reason for these standards being placed on abortion facilities is because the “anti-abortion crowd” is trying to shut them down. While pro-lifers should be cheering for the closure of abortion facilities and supporting legislation and politicians that would do just that, this doesn’t negate the fact that everyone should be in favor of common sense standards being in place at any clinic. If your local hospital administration decided that it didn’t want to be held to such strict standards anymore, wouldn’t you be slightly suspicious? We demand excellence and the highest rate of care from all health facilities… just not ones that commit abortions.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Abortion is a dirty business aimed at making a profit off the murder of babies. ” user=”@andyrectenwald”]

The idea that outlawing abortion will make it dangerous is not only false, it is absurd.

People need to stop using and believing the back-alley abortion argument.

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