Culture,  Politics

Does Pro-life Law Make a Police State Society?

In the Washington Post last week, Linda Hirschman alleges that John McCain’s pro-life position could lead to a kind of “police state” if he were elected president. She writes:

“In the 1980s, when abortion was severely limited in then-West Germany, border guards sometimes required German women returning from foreign trips to undergo vaginal examinations to make sure that they hadn’t illegally terminated a pregnancy while they were abroad. According to news stories and other accounts, the guards would stop young women and ask them about drugs, then look for evidence of abortion, such as sanitary pads or nightgowns, in their cars, and eventually force them to undergo a medical examination — as West German law empowered them to do.

“Sounds like a nightmare of a police state, doesn’t it? Like something that could never happen in this day and age — and certainly not in the United States? But depending upon the outcome of this presidential election, it could happen here. This is how.

“Republican presidential candidate John McCain opposes abortion, believing that life begins at conception. Imagine that he’s elected to the White House and, not long after, one of the aging Supreme Court justices dies or resigns. President McCain appoints a suitably conservative replacement, and a complaisant or cowed Senate confirms the nomination. Then, an ambitious district attorney in Alabama, Delaware or any one of more than a dozen other states with old abortion laws still on the books or a new, untested abortion restriction prosecutes a local clinic for performing the procedure. (Legal scholars pretty much agree that laws from before Roe v. Wade can be revived.) The clinic goes to federal court; after appeals, the case goes to the Supreme Court, which votes 5-4 to overturn Roe. And we’re back to the ’60s .”

Was America a “police state” before 1973 when Roe v. Wade was passed? Hardly. States had their own abortion laws before Roe, but America was hardly known for its draconian, interstate enforcement of abortion restrictions. I don’t know about you, but this kind of argument sounds to me a little bit like fear-mongering.

What is conspicuously absent from this whole piece is what is always absent from pro-choice proponents—a serious consideration of the humanity of the unborn. Hirschman fears that McCain-appointed justices might define the unborn as “persons” who are entitled to the protections of the fourteenth amendment, which says that no state may deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Hirschman raises the specter that a “fetus” might actually become defined as a “person” in law, but she makes no arguments why this shouldn’t be the case. She merely assumes that a woman’s right to choose trumps every other consideration.

This article is terrible, but it is also telling. The pro-choice movement continues to have no regard for the rights of the unborn. What a tragedy.

“If Roe Goes, Our State Will Be Worse Than You Think” – by Linda Hirshman (Washington Post)


  • brian

    I was recently in a “dialogue” (I thought) with a supposedly Christian female about this and it turned really nasty on her part. She said, this: “Regardless, while something is in my body, it is a part of me. Thus it is mine. MY BODY is dictated by ME and ME ALONE. No one has the right to tell my what I can and can’t do with it. That is a basic right for humans.” to which I replied, “Since when was murder a basic right for humans? I never saw that one anywhere. People can and DO tell you and me what to do with ourselves everyday, and with our own bodies. It’s called law. That’s pathetic. You treat a baby like a tumor, it makes me sick.”

  • Charles O'Connell

    So much of this has already been settled in Marvin Olasky’s “Abortion Rites”. It’s a more sophisticated (and therefore, more self-delusional) version of “legislating morality”. If someone is going to rob you or murder you, if the Police weren’t statutorily required to defend your life, they wouldn’t unless they had some personal connection with you. If a gun crime is committed, investigators look for evidence of powder residues.

  • John

    These people that actually think this way are few and far between. In other words, just because of some fear-mongering ultra liberal don’t assume that this is the majority thought. I think the vast majority of Americans are against abortion, both Democrat and Republican, but we just have different ideologies as to how to tackle it. But very few would take the line of thought this crazy woman does, or at least I know that I sure wouldn’t. It’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life and I can’t believe she even wrote it.

  • Brian (Another)


    I think I missed the connection to the powder residue.

    I remember the backstory of which Nat Hentoff spoke (the one linked on your site). It sums up the sometimes purposeful self-delusional aspect.

  • Don

    The pro-life and pro-abort positions reveal radically different worldviews. The way to drum up support about pro-abortion people is to bring up the bogeyman of back alley abortions or worse. This is just more of the same, it is to be expected from their worldview.

  • Nathan


    I’m not sure how you can say, “I think the vast majority of Americans are against abortion, both Democrat and Republican, but we just have different ideologies as to how to tackle it.”

    What evidence can you give for this? The Democratic National Party has Abortion on Demand written into their platform document.

    From the Party Platform at

    “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”

    Also the polling data doesn’t come anywhere near your opinion that the vast number of Americans are against abortion. On the contrary, those who favor abortion in almost all cases are in the majority, while only about 10-20% believe it should be illegal in all cases.


    Also, 50 million plus babies aborted since 1973 doesn’t support your argument either.

  • Brian (Another)


    Good point. You know, I had read somewhere recently that women, in the following months (month, maybe? I don’t recall) after an abortion are something like 10X likely to commit suicide. I wonder what the numbers of suicide following an abortion are compared to the “back alley” boogeyman.

  • Joshua

    Hirschman brings up a pointless comment. West-Germany is not anywhere near the same government as America was or is, therefore her argument is ridiculous, and she is just trying to bash McCain.

    We as a country have gotten into a bad habit of bashing George W. Bush, and now we are going to continue on and on. We’ve discovered instead of talking about the real issue, we just point fingers and call someone wrong, stupid, etc.

  • Branden

    For the Coven that is radical feminism sacrificing their unborn to Molech through abortion is their sacrament.

    Was that too gently put?

  • Paul

    This was an outrageous statement.

    No more outrageous, though, than saying that people that vote for (insert pro-choice candidate here) are pro-death, hate babies or don’t care about the unborn.

  • Brittany

    Dr. Burk, I’m not sure you’re right in your response. A post-“abortion is legal” society will act, and react, differently toward the issue of abortion than a pre-“abortion is legal” society; and I think that’s what Hirschman is driving at; the govt that illegalized abortion after it was already legal will treat women, the unborn, and abortion issues differently than the pre-Roe v. Wade government (in which it was not, in fact, illegal to obtain an abortion in most states; “health problems” that allowed a women to obtain an abortion were very loose – including bladder problems, for example). Anyway, I think her argument is interesting, given that her belief is apparently that a pro-life government will act and legislate with an increasingly paternalistic attitude toward women (a not-ridiculous idea).

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