Tim Kaine, speaking about abortion in the vice-presidential debate last night, asked his pro-life opponent: “[W]hy don't you trust women to make this choice for themselves? … [W]hy don't you trust women?”
This is popular rhetoric among defenders of abortion, but it seems odd because it completely sidesteps the issue. After all, what if a particular choice is unjust? Shouldn't that unjust act be prohibited? We could try “trusting” people not to make the unjust choice, but what if, nevertheless, that unjust choice is made more than a million times every year (as the choice of abortion is)? Shouldn't the government act to prevent the injustice?
Consider a different issue. Why don't we trust men to make the choice of whether or not to pay child support? Should we eliminate child support requirements? No, of course not—because the law should ensure that children receive the support they need.
Or consider infanticide. Why don't we trust parents with the decision of whether or not to kill or abandon their newborn children? Because newborn children have a right to life and deserve society's protection.
Many choices—like deciding what to eat for dinner—should be permitted by law. They are choices that the law should “trust” people to make for themselves. But other choices—like refusing to pay child support or abandoning a newborn baby—should not be permitted because they harm innocent people. So what kind of choice is abortion? Does it unjustly take the life of a valuable human being? That is the question that must be addressed.
Kaine's rhetoric assumes that abortion is not unjust. It assumes that abortion is more like deciding what to eat for dinner than like killing an innocent person. But this is precisely what is at issue in the abortion debate. Kaine's empty language offers no actual reason to think that his position on abortion is true.