“So What If Abortion Ends a Life?”

This Hoopes sign has marched on Washington or Topeka each year for more than a decade.

So What If Abortion Ends Life?”

That’s the shocking headline of a Salon magazine piece by Mary Elizabeth Williams.

Her argument is that more powerful human beings should be allowed to destroy weaker ones. But that’s not how she frames it.

The opening of the piece gives a good sense of her approach.

“Of all the diabolically clever moves the anti-choice lobby has ever pulled, surely one of the greatest has been its consistent co-opting of the word ‘life.’ Life! Who wants to argue with that? Who wants be on the side of … not-life?”

This demonstrates her method throughout the piece:

1. She belittles opponents with name-calling. In this case she calls us Satanic in our cleverness. She invents an “anti-choice” lobby that we are a part of, because it’s important for her to imagine us sitting around cackling and scheming ways to reduce women’s choices. (She should learn to walk in our shoes instead of labeling us so divisively.)

2. She feigns honesty while dancing around the issue. You can see it right there in the opening. “Who wants to be on the side of … not life?” she asks because in all of her honesty about unborn human life she can’t bring herself to say that she is for the death of unborn human life. She is simply for … not life. She is refreshingly honest … until she can’t bear the consequences of her position.

To her credit she does not deny that human life is human life. “I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me.”

Not to her credit, she also refuses to call killing anything but “choice.” “I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life. And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice,” she says.

But however you slice it, her argument is that the more powerful get to destroy the weak, and that’s just how it is.

She writes:

“Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.”

There is nothing more chilling than the argument that “the boss” gets to trump the weak because, well, because she is more powerful. Talk about diabolical. After a century of fighting for the weak and disenfranchised, the Left has become a movement that sees “the boss wants it” as the ultimate argument for killing a human life.

But don’t trust what I say. Because I say the right to life counts as much for the weak as the powerful, Warren calls me a “wingnut.” I’m an “archconservative.” People like me just want to “browbeat [women] with the concept of ‘life,’ using their scare tactics on women and pushing for indefensible violations like forced ultrasounds.”

In other words, we want to inform women about the human life Williams acknowledges before they choose to kill it. How wing-nutty of us.

That’s the difference between Williams and we who oppose abortion. We believe that it is always wrong to end a human life. Even if the life is weaker than you. Even if you’re the boss. Especially if you’re the boss.


Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications department and edits the college’s Catholic identity speech digest, The Gregorian.



  • Joe M

    Thank you Tom. Great article.

    In a strange way, I see Williams article as progress. For years (and maybe we’re still there) the pro-abortion movement has routinely denied that a fetus is a human life. It’s like we’re an entire nation caught up on a very early phase of the logic of this issue.

    At least Williams is honest about what abortion is. That enables us to move on to debate the next phase of logic. And I can’t believe that the popular consensus outcome of “Should one human be able to kill another human?” will be what Williams seems to think. Perhaps that is why we have seen a trend of more people identifying as pro-life. We’re moving on to more honestly reflect upon what abortion is and it doesn’t sit well with people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=66002309 Allen Troupe

    When I read her article yesterday afternoon I couldn’t but think “My God, she is justifying slavery, Hitler & many other evils.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/judy.ceselskiholden Judy Ceselski Holden

    She seems to forget that God is the ultimate boss. How is she going to answer Him on her judgement day?

  • Marc C

    The opposite of pro-life is pro-death. The opposite of pro-choice is anti-choice. A dictionary can help clear up this confusion. Anyone mixing these up is disingenuous. A fetus is a baby. Killing a fetus is killing a baby. Those who replace the phrase “killing a baby” with the phrase “making a choice” are being deceitful. We are faced with many choices every day that have consequences. “Pro-life” is not anti-choice. Pro-life is anti-killing-babies. Also lost in the discussion is the touchy subject of where all these unwanted babies are coming from. I only know of one immaculate conception.



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