Criminalizing Abortion Is Really About Deterring Women From Having Recreational Sex

For the religious fundamentalists “sex outside of marriage” and “an unwanted child” = Crime and Punishment

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

By David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

In Every Dispute You Need To Understand The Other Side’s Real Motivation

If you want to stop someone from doing something, you first need to find out why they want to do it.

In any dispute, your fundamental question needs to be

— What’s the motivation that’s driving the other side?

America’s Two Most Polarizing Societal Disputes

Let’s apply that strategy to analyzing America’s two most historically fundamental and polarizing “moral” disputes:

  1. The arguments one-hundred seventy years ago for and against slavery, and
  2. The arguments today for and against legal abortion.

The Motivation For Slavery And Racism

In the 1850s the arguments against slavery were mostly couched in moral terms, a tactic that ignored why Southerners were so resolutely committed to maintaining slavery.

Those against slavery who did ask the motivation question understood that the defenders of slavery didn’t care at all about ethics. The claims about needing to protect states’ rights were just a phony argument, a sham, a cover story.

For the Southerners, at its very core, keeping slavery was all about making money.

Slavery Was All About A Profitable Business Model

Early on, plantation owners realized that they could make twice as much money with slave labor as they could with a tenant-farmer business model.

By 1850, from top to bottom, the Southern economy was inextricably entwined with the plantation-slavery Business Model. It was an inoperable economic cancer. The Southerners understood that any plan that would get rid of the institution of slavery would kill the patient.

Racism Was Just The Spin Used To Mask The Hypocrisy Of Christians Owing Slaves

The nature of African people, their racial characteristics, the idea that God had designated them as a slave race created by Jehovah to serve the White race were all junk, crap, propaganda which Southerners had to create to justify to themselves the creation of and the maintenance of their slavery business model.

If you’re going kidnap people, steal their lives, rape their women, and work the men to death, you pretty much can’t call yourself a Christian. You can be a Christian or you can own slaves, but not both.

And you can’t be an American who believes in the words of the Declaration of Independence — equality, life, and liberty — and also own kidnapped people as slaves unless the slaves aren’t really people at all.

That’s your out, your escape clause, your loophole.

So if you want to think of yourself as a patriotic Christian and you still want to own slaves, you have to invent, promote and live the fiction that the people you’re enslaving aren’t really people at all.

You have to make Africans into something less than human.

Fighting Slavery Required Understanding Economics Not Debating Morality

To understand the real nature of slavery and slave owners, to really understand the conflict over slavery, the abolitionists needed to abandon fighting over morality and wasting time debating so-called states’ rights and understand that the root of slavery, the real motivation for slavery, was always money.

Once you understood that money was at the heart of it all, you could stop wasting your time trying to convince Southerners that slavery was immoral. Then you would realize that Southerners would never compromise over maintaining slavery; that talking to Southerners about morality, that thinking that Southerners could be shamed into abandoning slavery, was a fool’s errand.

The Abortion Dispute

Now America is embroiled in a new Moral Question — Is it ever moral to terminate a pregnancy and if so, when?

Like the arguments about the morality of slavery instead of recognizing slavery was a business model, the debate about whether or not abortion is moral misses the real motivation of those who want to criminalize abortion.

Debating the morality of abortion is like debating the appearance of a plant’s foliage instead of understanding the nature of its roots.

An Example Of How You Discover A Group’s True Motivation

Suppose a group of people started a big campaign to get the government to spend more money fighting forest fires. They’re agitating for more fire fighters, more fire-fighting planes, and the development of new fire-fighting tools and techniques. They’re telling everyone how terrible forest fires are and how important it is to increase the funding to put them out.

You would expect this group to support programs that trained campers on fire safety and that removed trees from proximity to power lines. But suppose this group opposed programs that would limit campfires, opposed upgrading power lines, and opposed increased penalties for people who carelessly started forest fires.

That opposition to programs that would reduce forest fires would tell you that the group’s real goal was not to reduce forest fires; that they really didn’t care about stopping forest fires at all.

Your next step in determining their motivation would be to look at who made up this group. When you did that and you discovered that this organization was founded by several companies that manufactured firefighting equipment together with the representatives of the fire-fighters union their motivation would be clear.

Then you would realize that this group wasn’t really interested in protecting forests by preventing forest fires, but rather that it’s real goal was to get the taxpayers to spend more money on the fire-fighting industry. In fact, the more forest fires there were, the better it was for them.

The group’s actions and its membership would reveal that it’s true motivation was money, not environmental protection.

Who Are The Ardent Supporters Of Criminalizing Abortion?

As in the forest-fire example, we next ask, “Who are the people who want to criminalize abortion and who oppose strategies that would reduce unwanted pregnancies?”

They are almost entirely people who hold fundamentalist religious beliefs — fundamentalist Christians, conservative Catholics, and devout Muslims.

Abortion Opponents Also Oppose Programs That Would Reduce Unwanted Pregnancies

If the goal of those wanting to criminalize abortion was actually to reduce abortions then you would expect them to support programs that would reduce unwanted pregnancies — sex education for young people, easy availability of condoms and other types of birth control, easy availability of a “morning after” pill that would prevent the growth of an embryo, and other programs that would greatly reduce the number of women who wanted an abortion.

But like the anti-forest fire people who opposed programs that would prevent forest fires, the anti-abortion people oppose programs that would prevent unwanted pregnancies.

That tells us that the anti-abortion people are really not interested in reducing unwanted pregnancies. In fact, they want women to continue to have the risk of an unwanted pregnancy because that risk acts as a deterrent to what they are really against — women being able to have recreational sex and sex outside of marriage.

Why They Oppose Policies That Would Reduce Unwanted Pregnancies

  • They oppose sex education because it tells young people how to have sex without getting pregnant and they want the fear of pregnancy to be a deterrent to young people having recreational sex.
  • They oppose the easy availability of condoms and other types of birth control because they make it easier for women to have sex outside of marriage.
  • They oppose the availability of a pill that prevents a fertilized egg from growing into a fetus because that pill makes it easier for women to have recreational sex without the fear of an unwanted pregnancy.

They aren’t actually against unwanted pregnancies. They are in favor of the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy because what they’re really against is women having recreational sex, and they want to use the risk of an unwanted child as a deterrent, a weapon, against people having recreational sex. The availability of abortion takes away much of that deterrent so it has to go.

Criminalizing Abortion As Much About Deterring Women From Having Recreational Sex As It Is About Not “Killing Babies”

The fundamental motivation behind their demand for the criminalization of abortion is to make it as dangerous as possible for a woman to have recreational sex and to punish her with an unwanted child if she does.

For them, sex outside of marriage and an unwanted child = Crime and punishment.

Sure, they also think that at some age a fetus is a person, but their ridiculous claim that a day-old fertilized egg is a human being is clearly a phony argument, a scam claim designed to hide what they’re really after — keeping the risk of an unwanted pregnancy as high as possible as a deterrent to a woman having recreational sex.

So, yes, in the furtherance of their battle to keep women from being able to have recreational sex they can claim that a fertilized egg is a human being, and that killing an nonviable fetus is murder, but that doesn’t mean that those are universally convincing arguments or that they should be able to impose those extreme ideas on women who are not adherents to their fundamentalist religious beliefs.

The Real Goal Of Criminalizing Abortion

Their overall strategy is:

“If you have sex outside of marriage you might get pregnant. If you get pregnant without a man there to support you and the baby, you may have to give up your education, your job and your career, and you will have to struggle to support a baby you cannot afford, so don’t have sex unless and until you’ve married a man who can support you.”

The secondary goal is: “Once you’re married, without abortion and without birth control you will end up having so many kids that you will have to be a stay-at-home mom and you won’t be able to divorce your husband because you won’t be able to earn enough money to support yourself and your child without him.”

In their fundamentalist catechism women are supposed to live their lives as baby-making machines and as participants in sex only to get pregnant and not for pleasure.

Sex education, contraception, pills that prevent the implantation of an embryo, and available abortion all undermine the imposition of their fundamentalist religious sex rules on American women.

Women Don’t Get Pregnant Without A Man

They counter with the argument that getting pregnant is the woman’s fault because she chose to have sex, so the responsibility for the unwanted child should be on her.

What nonsense!

  • A woman does not get pregnant unless the man chooses to have sex with her. She cannot force him to get an erection and penetrate her.
  • A woman does not get pregnant unless the man chooses not to use a condom.
  • A woman does not have a child she cannot support unless the man refuses to support that child.

Yet it is the woman who is supposed to give up her education, her job, and her career to care for and support the unwanted child as her punishment for allowing the man to penetrate her without a condom.

What tortured logic!

And even if she does not allow the man to penetrate her, even if she is a child who has been impregnated by a relative or if she was raped, the anti-abortion fundamentalists still insist that she must give birth to and support the child.

Who Should Pay To Raise An Unwanted Child?

If you insist that

  • Young women not be educated about how to avoid getting pregnant,
  • Young women not be provided with the devices that will allow them to avoid getting pregnant,
  • Women not be allowed to have medication that will prevent the growth of the fertilized egg,
  • Women not be allowed to terminate a pregnancy,

then you should be the one who is responsible for supporting and caring for that unwanted child.

If you’re going to have the police block off this highway and block off that highway and close down that tunnel then you should be the one who pays the toll for the people who have to drive across the last remaining bridge.

Welfare Hypocrisy

Criminalizing abortions almost entirely affects poorer people. Nice upper-middle-class women and girls who get pregnant get a plane ride to a medical center in another state and Problem Solved.

Of course, poor people don’t have the money to do that, and what do the anti-abortion people say?

“If only Those People would stop having babies out of wedlock, they would be able to take care of themselves without welfare” and “I don’t want my tax money going to those Welfare Queens.”

You do everything you can to prevent people from getting educated about sex, getting birth control and preventing them from terminating a pregnancy and then, when they get pregnant and you’ve prevented them from terminating the pregnancy, you sneer at them as Welfare Queens!”

What colossal hypocrisy!


If this was at all about “baby killing” the abortion opponents would be promoting the distribution of the “day after” pill in vending machines in every drug store in America along with free condoms and TicTok videos telling young people how to use them.

They would be promoting every means possible to prevent “baby killing” by preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

That they oppose every program that would effectively allow people to have sex without the risk of an unwanted pregnancy shows that they are not really so much against abortion as they want to use the fear of an unwanted pregnancy as a weapon to deter women from having recreational sex.

The criminalization of abortion is, at its heart, a plan by the members of fundamentalist religions to use the law to restrict women’s access to recreational sex and keep them under the control of men because that’s what their fundamentalist religions believe is moral conduct.

— David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

If you would like to know about David Grace’s new, always free, columns, click this LINK and then fill in your email address. When a new David Grace column is published, Medium (not David Grace!) will send you the new column as an email.

CLICK HERE to see some topic lists (Racism, Humorous Short Stories, etc.) and links in each topic list to some of my favorite columns on that topic.

To see a searchable list of all David Grace’s columns in chronological order, CLICK HERE

To see a list of all of David Grace’s columns sorted by topic/subject matter, CLICK HERE

To see David Grace’s Medium Home Page, CLICK HERE

Follow David Grace on Twitter at:



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store