“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.



  • MARY (for real! born in ’54)

    How ironic that the author of “So What If Abortion Ends A Life? has the name MARY ELIZABETH….”And how is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For the moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who believed the word spoken to her would be fulfilled…” Pray for Mary Elizabeth.

  • Chris R

    It’s comical to observe how far some people will go to avoid the obvious! The reason why hundreds of thousands of people will take off and travel to DC on one of the crappiest days of the year, year after year, has nothing to do with speaking out against the deliberate killing of innocent kids – it’s because we don’t like choice! Right!

  • Marvin Derks

    Ok then. So anti-abortion advocates are “Satanic in our cleverness” and pro-choice advocates are, in the words of Tom Hoopes, “the boss” gets to trump the weak.” Sure glad we’ve got that straightened out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/connor.mcginnis.184 Connor McGinnis

      Tom was simplifying Mary’s message. If anything, give her credit.

    • Joe M

      Marvin. Did you read the article? Those are literally the words that the pro-abortion writer used. She argues that one human can trump and destroy the life of another, because she’s the boss.

  • Paulspr

    I guess you would support a law that required anyone that wanted to join the Roman Catholic Church to watch a documentary about the Spanish Inquisition before doing so?

    Yeah, I thought not.

    • http://www.facebook.com/connor.mcginnis.184 Connor McGinnis

      Several points:
      1. The Inquisition is blow so out of proportion these days (millions killed) that it would probably be doing them a favor anyways.
      2. Before a person joins the Catholic Church, they have plenty of resources at their disposal. However you cannot just see your kid in the womb by going on the internet or buying a book.
      3. The Inquisition is really irrelevant in the sense that we don’t base our doctrine off of it or make the person encounter it in any way. It shouldn’t directly affect them as a Catholic. When it comes to abortion, however, one is taking a look at the center of the issue when it comes to being able to see your child in the womb. It isn’t some irrelevant back story that has nothing to do with abortion, but is the entire point of the operation.

      Try again.

      • Paulspr

        Lol. Was the holocaust blown out of proportion too?

        • http://www.facebook.com/connor.mcginnis.184 Connor McGinnis

          You either don’t read much or you are guilty of the thing I described. The estimate for the Inquisition as far as deaths is somewhere in the ballpark of 2000. Approximately 2% of those they tried were put to death. People actually requested the Inquisition over the kangaroo courts of the time.

          • Paulspr

            Oh. So 2,000 senseless murders are OK? Where do you draw the line where we should care about it?

          • http://www.facebook.com/connor.mcginnis.184 Connor McGinnis

            Prove to me that they were “senseless” first. If it was senseless, I’m thinking that the death rate would be a lot higher than 2%. Of course, we could write off that whole time period since the Inquisitions were about as merciful as they got.

          • Marvin Derks

            Read your history books please. The Catholic Church has murdered thousands throughout the ages in order to maintain control over the masses.

          • http://www.facebook.com/connor.mcginnis.184 Connor McGinnis

            Now this is quite tragic. If all you can do is parrot responses off of atheist propaganda sites, then I don’t know why I bother dialoguing with you. You hold the burden of proof. Now show me verifiable historical evidence that:
            a. the Catholic Church has “murdered” (I’ll take that to mean unjustly) thousands, and
            b. it was done to control the masses.
            No infidels.org or sites of the like. I want what you’d call “history book” reliability to back up your statements. Otherwise, all you are making is assertions, which I won’t take seriously.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      How does this comment pertain to the article above?

    • http://twitter.com/PhloontManphred Phloont Manphredsing

      Why do you keep coming here, Paul? You are a pathetic but dreadfully persistent troll.

      It could be that you really think that you are going to change the Catholic Church’s teaching with your comments here, but I think it is infinitely more likely that you are revealing a subconscious desire for the moral approval of Catholics.

      Listen to your conscience, Paul. And remember that the word means ‘with knowledge’, not ‘with feeling’.

      • Marvin Derks

        Why are you interested in why Paul is coming here? Why do you care? Maybe he’s simply following his conscience.

      • Joe M

        I actually do like that Paul comes here. You too Marvin.

        I may not agree with your positions and intentions. However, I do think that you’re learning about some important things. Maybe it will take some years. But, what you pick up here might influence you down the road.

        Some people never even take the step of understanding those that they disagree with.

        • Marvin Derks

          Well said.

        • chris scanlan

          I agree as well. It obvious Paul and Marvin are here to have a discussion, not just a screaming match, and that helps to bring up the quality of discussion for everyone.

        • Msgr. Charles M. Mangan

          J.M.J. I see your point, Joe. And that is my preference, too–that no one be banned. Yet, Paulspr has viciously attacked the Church repeatedly and told untruths. Hence, there comes a time when one wonders whether it is counterproductive to have one who assaults the Truth just in order to do so.

    • Maryellen Schroeder

      Perhaps you would be interested in a BBC documentary “The myth of the Spanish Inquisition”. It is not done by any pro-Catholic group, yet, to quote one reviewer, “This BBC documentary from 1994 verifies that the tale of the darkest hour of the Church was greatly fabricated.” It is readily available for viewing on You Tube and other sources.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

        NNNOOOOObody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

    • Marc C

      I would not have a problem with that idea. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Same thing with recent child abuse problems. All Catholics should know and understand the problem. We must shine a light on the problem and eradicate it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.molenda Ben Molenda

    Awesome article, Tom.

  • http://twitter.com/OrdainedPraise Eileen Miller

    “I am my brothers keeper!” Whether I’m the boss or not…but especially if I’m the boss! Selfless giving is a quality one finds through understanding the Christ and virtue that gives compassion and help to those less fortunate or weaker. Abortion rights people are not selfless but selfish!

    • Marvin Derks

      How is it selfless to uphold what you believe in? How is it selfless to give “help to those less fortunate or weaker” when that’s what you believe in? It seems to me that you’re doing exactly what you want to do. Why do you believe that’s selfless? What is your definition of selfless and why do you believe your selfishness in upholding these things dear to you is bad?

      • http://www.facebook.com/connor.mcginnis.184 Connor McGinnis

        Simply because Eileen believes in something doesn’t mean it makes her more comfortable or is easy to do. If I died for a person I loved, would I really actually be selfish in doing that since it is “what I believe?” This makes no sense. Simply because someone believes something doesn’t mean it isn’t selfless.

        • Marvin Derks

          So let’s see if I understand what you’re saying. Eileen is doing something that she believes in and something most of us would say is a very wonderful thing to do. Because Eileen finds it difficult and uncomfortable to do, it means that she’s selfless. If Eileen does the exact same thing but finds it easy and comfortable to do, does that mean she’s not being selfless?

          • http://www.facebook.com/connor.mcginnis.184 Connor McGinnis

            I think if it is difficult, it would be more selfless. Selflessness as I define it is: “the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others.”
            How does doing what a person believes not fit this definition?

          • Marvin Derks

            So the more difficult it is the more it’s unselfish. I don’t really understand “unselfish concern.” It seems, to me, that concern for others is always selfish, in a good way of course.

          • http://www.facebook.com/connor.mcginnis.184 Connor McGinnis

            I guess we’ll just have to disagree on this, then.

          • Paulspr




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