A Dad’s Thoughts on Abortion as a Human Rights Issue


This op ed by Congressman Collins first appeared in the Daily Signal on January 26, 2017.

Last Saturday, individuals across our country and in cities like London, Nairobi, Paris, Mexico City, and Sydney coordinated to highlight a spectrum of issues under the banner of human rights.

At the Women’s March, advocates for women, immigrants, and education rights coalesced around the idea that advancing their position means making their voices heard by their leaders and fellow citizens.

Though I may not agree with all of the agendas represented at these demonstrations, I agree with the principle that political silence can foster injustice.

This week, which marks the annual March for Life as well as the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, testifies to the fact that the most defenseless, abused members of American society also have the weakest voices.

At the same time, it is not lost on me that I am attempting to speak, as a husband and a father, on a topic that has come to be classified under the umbrella of women’s issues.

Yet abortion affects both women and men, the born and the unborn, and our response to it reverberates throughout every dimension of society.

If anything qualifies as a fundamental human right, it is the right to life. Each discussion about the right to vote, speak freely, be compensated fairly, or receive equal protection under the law is predicated on a person’s unquestionable right to exist.

Our Constitution implies that the former are corollaries of the latter: No person has access to liberty or the pursuit of happiness unless we first understand that he or she has the right to life.

My daughter, Jordan, illustrates this reality for me every morning that she rolls her wheelchair into breakfast.

We learned during pregnancy that Jordan has spina bifida, and one of my wife’s colleagues suggested at the time that we consider terminating the pregnancy—as though either disability or age nullified our daughter’s humanity.

The notion that, for up to nine months, my wife had the right to blot out Jordan’s voice seems counterproductive to the advancement of women’s rights and alien to the dignity undergirding every life.

Jordan is now 24. She has never walked, but she has always lived with abandon, and to do so has been her right since conception.

It’s my privilege to channel the joy I’ve known as Jordan’s father into supporting legislation that protects the lives of the unborn and the wellbeing of their mothers—because abortion hurts women, too.

As we approach Friday’s March for Life, my colleagues and I have been working to protect even the youngest lives while affirming that each one has immeasurable worth.

I co-sponsored the bipartisan No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which makes permanent the Hyde Amendment in order to block federal funding for abortion across the board.

Republicans and Democrats in the House passed this bill the day after President Donald Trump reinstituted the Mexico City policy, which complements our bill by reserving federal aid only for NGOs that do not promote abortion abroad.

Sixty-one percent of Americans oppose using taxpayer dollars to end the lives of their unborn compatriots, and the No Taxpayer Funding Act also requires transparency from the Obamacare plans—over 1,000 of them—that funnel premiums to abortion providers with impunity.

Abortion snuffs out the lives of unborn men and women alike and often leaves post-abortive women with physical and psychological injuries. This means that its violence targets women disproportionately.

In terms of empowerment, funding abortion with taxpayer dollars is state-sponsor disenfranchisement of the unborn underclass.

A litany of injustices confronts us daily—racism, sexism, and classism—and we lose the opportunity and the moral justification for addressing these scourges if we forfeit the battle to protect society’s voiceless innocents.

For this reason, every person at every march held in Washington and across the country this week has cause to consider how standing up for the unborn is a catalyst for their cause and a cornerstone of human rights advocacy.

As we walk through these complex discussions of individual freedoms and interpersonal responsibility, may our actions be just and our compassion incorrigible.

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