Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Will making abortion illegal lead to mandated abortions?

One pro-choice argument which I run into every now and again goes something like this:
If a government can make abortion illegal, they can also mandate abortions.
I think the idea is that if a government can control what a woman does with her body one way then they have the theoretical ability to control it the completely opposite way.

One of the main problems I see with this argument is that it doesn't take into account the reasons behind prohibiting women from having abortions or assumes the reason behind banning abortion is to control women regardless of what the consequences of that control are.

To me, the argument is totally unconvincing because I recognize the reasons why a government would ban abortion is not to "control women" but to make the intentional killing of unborn human beings illegal so it would make no sense to forcibly mandate the intentional killing of unborn human beings. But for people who hold the view that the prolife movement is all about controlling women, it seems they see abortion as the first choice in a line of choices the government could take away.

What's odd about this argument is that I can't recall ever hearing proponents of anything else but abortion claiming that making an action illegal will lead to the government mandating that action. For example: drug use. I've never heard anyone argue that making the use of certain substances illegal will lead to government mandating the use of those drugs. Imagine someone arguing, "banning cocaine will lead to mandated daily snortings." Or something like flag burning. No advocate of keeping flag burning legal would argue that banning flag burning will lead to mandated flag burning.

Nor can I recall any action being mandated because it was made illegal beforehand. Nor can I think of a single politician in favor of mandating abortions so the idea of mandated abortions becoming law seems rather outrageous.

Yet pro-choicers still make this argument now and again and some of them find it very convincing. Any thoughts besides the ones above for discussing this argument with someone who is pro-choice?

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