There is a rather outrageous political piece on Crisis Magazine by John Zmirak called “Amnesty Equals Abortion.” The point of it is to say that if and when we give amnesty to illegal immigrants, they will support pro-choice Democrats in elections. If more pro-choice Democrats get into office, we will see an increase in abortions. Therefore, amnesty equals abortion.
My initial reply said what the title of this post was this
I know, I will write a piece which says “capitalism equals abortion” pointing out how abortion is just one of many things traded on the “free market.” I will also point out that jobs equals abortion, because people with jobs will be able to pay for abortions. I will also write on how corporations equals abortion, because corporations pay for health insurances from companies which pay for abortion.
There is so much wrong with this line of reasoning. It uses rather remote cooperation with evil and equates it with being the same thing as direct, formal support for it. This is something we find quite common in political debates, and it should not surprise us. The error of this kind of thinking is easy to see, and it is why those who do not agree with it, do not try to make equivalent statements like “capitalism equates abortion” unless they are trying to demonstrate through analogy or through a reductio ad absurdum the fault in the argument.
Some of the other replies to the post rightfully point out various problems people have with Zmirak’s arguments; one of the best comes from JohnMcG. He explains that this is in reality similar to the kinds of arguments one hears in support for abortion:
The ultimate problem with the main argument is that it sees people as instruments. The immigrants aren’t people whom we must treat in the most virtuous manner possible; they are potential votes that will either help or hurt our cause, and their treatment depends on how they will help or hurt that cause.
Isn’t that the pro-choice position? The moral status of the unborn child doesn’t matter — what matters is how they impact *my* life; and if they conflict with my larger goals, they can be disposed of.I find it extremely unlikely that a pro-life society is going to be built on this.
This is what is wrong with Zmirak’s post. It is instrumental. It is destroying the human person for the sake of a good goal. The ends justify the means. It is yet another form of consequentialism. But JohnMcG’s point is succinct; abortion is supported, for the most part, by the same rhetoric; abortion is justified through consequential ethics as well. If we want to establish a culture of life, we must overcome the morality of death: consequentialism.
We must support human rights, even if the people being given the rights might abuse them. We cannot use some sort of “future crime” as a basis of dismissing their human dignity. We cannot equate support the freedom we give to a human person with the outcome of that freedom if they abuse it. Finally, we must not let claims of “abortion support” due to remote material cooperation of abortion be the end all of all political debates, for we will find such remote material cooperation can be applied all around the political spectrum. After all, a stronger argument can be made for capitalism equating abortion than any amnesty program for illegal immigrants, yet, if someone went about to show all the ways capitalism helps the abortion industry, I doubt the capitalists would change a single thing. Some want to use the abortion card on others, but, in the end, rarely do they care about their own cooperation with evil. This is the reverse of what it should be: Jesus said we should get the plank out of our own eye before trying to remove it from the eyes of others. Please, Lord, let us do so!