Fatal Mistakes, #2: It’s the Woman’s Right 

A recent issue of Teen Vogue magazine has been widely criticized by parents  https://nypost.com/2019/06/14/teen-vogue-slammed-for-column-teaching-minors-how-to-get-abortions/ for advising girls how to procure abortions without the knowledge or consent of their parents.  The columnnist, Nona Willis Aronowitz, insists that when a mistake is made, a girl should be able to make the decision on her own:

I’m here to tell you that you have nothing to be ashamed of. Accidents can happen even to the most careful among us. And it’s only logical that if teens are mature enough to become parents, they are mature enough to decide whether or not they want to give birth. Having access to abortion should be your right, regardless of your parents’ beliefs.

There are two obvious mistakes here, the minor mistake is the conclusion and the major mistake is the general premise.  Let’s start with the conclusion, which begins with an assumption that could only be put forward by someone who knows nothing about logic:  “It’s only logical that if teens are mature enough to become parents, they are mature enough to decide whether or not they want to give birth.”

Here the absurdity turns on the word “mature.”  A girl at the age of twelve (or younger) may be physically mature enough to conceive a child, but is she intellectually or morally mature enough to think through an issue.  She is not allowed to drive or vote or sue in court or be convicted of murder as an adult.  Why?  Because, as nearly everyone with any intellectual maturity understands, children—male and female—are not well formed enough to be held entirely accountable for their actions.  It would seem to be pretty obvious that if someone cannot be tried as an adult for murdering his or her baby, once it has been born, she (or he)  should not be allowed to make decisions of life and death.  

Setting aside the question of whether abortion is homicide, the decision to eliminate an unborn baby remains a serious question.   If a minor child is not mature enough to make the decision, she has to rely on parents or guardians, just as she relies on them to feed and clothe her and see that she gets to school.  After all, if the fetus is potentially her child, it is also potentially the parent’s grandchild.

This brings us to the faulty premise:  that it is the woman’s exclusive right to choose whether or not to bear the child.  From the perspective of genetics, the child belongs as much to the father as to the mother, and it belongs as much to both her parents as it does to her.  From a more sociological or anthropological perspective, the birth of a baby is a link between generations and a bond between families and bloodlines.  Only an anarcho-libertarian would claim that society has no stake in a woman’s decision.  

Let us suppose, for the moment, that we are all anarcho-libertarians.  Apart from the mother’s right to abort her child, what other positions would we have to adopt?  The list is endless.  If we are all free radicals floating through life, we have no obligation to support public education or welfare, and parents would have no obligation to support their children.  After all, someone who has the right to terminate a pregnancy must possess the right not to spend a lifetime supporting the son or daughter, once it has been born.

People—though that is hardly the mot juste in this case—like Ms Aronowitz are almost always socialists to one degree or another, and most would heartily endorse Ms Clinton’s socialist proverb that “It takes a village to rear a child.  This is no place to debate the merits of socialism, but if one is going to vote for Democratic candidates who wish to expand welfare benefits—including Planned Parenthood clinics providing abortion services--then it is completely illogical to conclude that in just this one instance, an individual has the exclusive right to make a life or death decision.  If it takes a village to rear a child, then it is up to the village to decide whether or not a child can be born.

So, setting aside the question of what abortion is and whether it is an action that is good, bad, or indifferent, no American so-called liberal, socialist, or member of the Democratic Party can make any rational or logical argument that gives a mother the exclusive right to decide whether or not to bear the child.  If they have any regard for marriage and family, the decision will have to be shared by family members and by the father, if he is known.  More broadly, the decisions must be left up to the governments that forbid people to drive without insurance or ride a motorcycle without a helmet, and taxes the citizens to provide free education and subsidize the food and shelter of  “poor” children. 

Avatar photo

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

2 Responses

  1. Raymond Olson says:

    Just so.

  2. David Wihowski says:

    Our society regularly treats older people as idiots and younger people as geniuses, so certainly a 12 year old should be mature enough to make those kind of decisions. It is a theme that recurs in movies, television pop music and our formal education system: the older someone is the more out of touch they are. But, of course, the same people that claim a 12 year old is a genius will not grant them any responsibility if they commit first-degree intentional murder.