Frank writes in part:
Although there is clearly something attractive about this strategy, there are good reasons to call it into questionRead the whole piece. The comments from readers are also great.
(1) From a strictly moral point of view, abortion is not a serious moral wrong just because the woman suffers as a result of choosing or having one. For many abortions do not result in gratuitous suffering or harm to the women who have them, and clearly no prolifer would want to say that those abortions are morally benign. Thus, to offer consequentialism as a strategy for prolife victory is to concede the first premise of the abortion-choice movement: the self-interest and well-being of an autonomous adult (in this case, the pregnant woman) trumps any other interests. It seems, therefore, counterintuitive for the prolife defenders of the consequentialist strategy to want to provide a cultural environment hospitable to the moral primacy of consequentialism.
(2) Even if the NPS’s approach reduces the number of abortions, it does not follow that the culture is becoming more accepting of the prolife perspective. Although an appeal to self-interest may persuade some women not to have abortions, the choice not to abort for this reason is not the same as a moral conversion and intellectual assent to the prolife perspective. If a 19th-century American slave owner chose to free his kidnapped Africans because he was persuaded to believe that it was not in his self-interest to continue owning them, such an act, though good insofar as sparing the slaves a tremendous indignity, would not be equivalent to his being converted to the belief that no person by nature is property and thus ought not to be owned by another.
It would be, in other words, wrong to conclude on the basis of the slave owner’s act of liberation that he had become a converted abolitionist. The case is the same with a woman who decides that having an abortion is not in her best interest. Since the prolife position is based on the belief that fetuses are full members of the human community and ought not to be killed by anyone without justification, being persuaded not to have an abortion is not the same as moral conversion and intellectual assent to the prolife perspective.