(LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court’s long-awaited reversal of Roe v. Wade has elicited intense reactions from abortion defenders, many of whom have opted to double down on the extremes of their stance rather than moderate their positions to appeal to Americans who can now directly vote on abortion’s legality.
One such reaction came from author and “feminist theorist” Sophie Lewis, writing in the pages of left-wing publication The Nation, staking out a more shocking – and more honest – position than standard abortion apologetics. Instead of framing the issue with euphemisms like “reproductive health care” or “controlling women’s bodies,” Lewis starkly proclaims with her headline “Abortion Involves Killing–and That’s OK!”
Lewis, who is no stranger to defending abortion as “acceptable violence,” writes that “those of us who have helped a friend terminate a pregnancy” are “well situated to understand that something is killed during a uterine evacuation, much as a flower dies when it is plucked,” and that the “euphemistic, apologetic, placatory ‘pro-choice’ strategy hasn’t worked out thus far,” so now is the moment for champions of “choice” to “reset the terms on which abortion is fought.”
“When ‘pro-life’ forces agitate against feticide on the basis that it is killing, pro-abortion feminists should be able to acknowledge, without shame, that yes, of course it is,” she argues. “When we withdraw from gestating, we stop the life of the product of our gestational labor. And it’s a good thing we do, too, for otherwise the world would sag under the weight of forced life.”
According to Lewis, aversion to this thesis is a byproduct of a “misogynist society, sentimentally attached to its ideology of patriarchal motherhood.” A recurring facet of pro-abortion “feminism” is the attribution of sexism to the refusal to let mothers dispose of their children, despite the fact there is neither any context in which men enjoy a corresponding right to do so nor anyone advocating for such a right. Some conservatives and pro-lifers have suggested that such talk of “patriarchy” is rooted in a deeper resentment of human biology’s uneven distribution of the reproductive process among the sexes.
Rather than alienating abortion fence-sitters by embracing callousness toward children, Lewis thinks this stance will emphasize pro-lifers’ supposed “logic of female subordination,” that women “must serve patiently as the vessels through which life passes.” She also claims that the concept of “innocence” (as in that of the preborn child) is “fundamentally inhumane” and “deriv[es] from the most punitive interpretations of Christianity,” and that treating born and preborn life equally is actually “anti-life” because it supposedly prioritizes the “quantitative rather than qualitative dimensions of life.”
In fact, while the concept of “innocence” may carry added connotations in theological contexts, in the context of individual rights such as the right to life it merely denotes the absence of any wrongdoing meriting punishment (such as death). Abortion advocates have long been heavily invested in the false notion that pro-lifers want to restrict abortion not to protect innocent children, but to “punish women for sex.” As for quantitative versus qualitative life, it has long been a widely-held ethical tenet that deciding whether or not a life is worthwhile is a dangerous line, the crossing of which opens the door to rationalizing any number of human rights atrocities. Denying the humanity of the preborn is, for many, a way to support abortion while appearing to share this tenet.
Lewis closes by backtracking somewhat on the bracing candor that defines most of the essay, falsely suggesting that “fetuses” are not “people” or “actually existing human beings.” In fact, fetuses are both, according to modern science and longstanding mainstream linguistic standards.
Long-settled biological criteria and mainstream medical textbooks establish that a living human being, structurally and genetically distinct from his or her mother, is created upon fertilization and is present throughout the entirety of pregnancy. This is not in serious dispute; in 2019, University of Chicago Department of Comparative Human Development graduate Steve Jacobs found that 96% of more than 5,500 biologists he surveyed agreed, despite overwhelmingly identifying as “liberal,” “pro-choice,” and Democrats, and a majority identifying as “non-religious.”
When factual claims fail, abortion defenders often fall back on semantics, claiming that words like “person,” “child,” and “baby” are linguistically improper before birth. But a cursory review of how the terms are used by authorities such as Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine, and defined by dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster, Collins, American Heritage, and Macmillan, undermines this tactic.
Lewis is far from the first abortion apologist to acknowledge that abortion entails violence; several abortionists and pro-abortion activists and philosophers have admitted as much. But she is among the most aggressive in casting that violence as a positive good, an approach that, by entirely eschewing empathy for abortion’s victims, is unlikely to win over undecided Americans who find their empathy divided between mother and child – a task that, for both sides, has taken on new urgency now that abortion policy is fully subject to the democratic process.