Government & bedrooms

A common pro-choice sound bite is that “Government should stay out of our bedrooms.”  It is an emotional play on the theme of privacy, but the logic is poor for several reasons.  

I don’t know of any abortions that occur in bedrooms.  I’m pretty sure that most take place at abortion clinics. 

Rape, incest, pedophilia, murders, thefts and a host of other crimes can occur in bedrooms, but I don’t hear anyone suggesting that the government ignore those.   

I realize the first two items were taking the claim literally, but the pro-choice reasoning also fails in a figurative sense.  Groups that claim to want the government out of bedrooms sure have cashed a lot of government checks for “educating” our youth on sexually related matters.  As detailed here, Planned Parenthood and the like appear to have a great deal of interest in your bedroom activities and those of your children, and they crave and receive massive government funding.  If by “government out of our bedrooms” they mean “government out of our sex lives,” then Planned Parenthood supporters should ask that they refund all the money they have received ($3.9 billion since 1987) and get out of our schools.  

As with most pro-choice arguments, this claim ignores the primary issue of abortion: Whether or not an innocent human being is killed.  If abortion doesn’t kill an innocent human being, then of course the government shouldn’t be involved in determining whether the procedure is legal.  However, if it does kill an innocent human being, then it really doesn’t matter where the life of the unborn started.   

8 thoughts on “Government & bedrooms”

  1. I think you might be taking it a bit too literally.

    Your argument is based on a charge of hypocracy: Pro-choice groups accept $$ from the government, so it is hypocritical to suggest that government stay “out of our bedrooms.”

    You almost had me going there, as my hypocracy sensor is usually set to “shake and bake.” After considering it though, I think there’s a difference between government money and government policy. Unfortunately in our era of Big Government, the two are usually tied together in order to effect some sort of social change. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, and is usually better if it isn’t. It isn’t hypocritical at all to want one and not the other, in fact, it’s a pretty conservative standpoint. For example, consider schools. I think they need more money. However, I think local teachers, administrators, parents and students probably have a better idea about what to do with that money than the federal government. It isn’t hypocritical to want those federal dollars but want the government to keep out of the way. In addition, government money isn’t actually the government’s money. It’s the tax payers money, all of them. However, government policy is not everyone’s policy, it is usually just the policy of the majority.

    As you know, (or I think you do, anyway) I’m not pro-choice, so I’m not arguing against that issue.


  2. Yes, I know and appreciate that you aren’t pro-choice. I still think their argument is just an emotional sound bite designed to get people to think that “the man” is telling them what to do with their personal lives. It falls apart figuratively or literally upon closer examination.


  3. P.S. Thanks for the coment. I realized I should do an overview for the pro-life reasoning bits I’ll put up from time to time. My point isn’t that pro-choicers made a bad or hypocritcal argument so they should be dismissed (that would catapult many of us out of many conversations). It is to equip people with some simple replies to blow away the smokescreen arguments and get back to the main issue.

    For example, in this case if someone was given the “bedroom” argument he could politely ask, “What do you mean by that?,” then ask a couple follow up questions to point out that where conception or abortions take place really isn’t the issue.


  4. Oh, I agree that the “get out of our bedroom” cry is simply an appeal to emotion and not the same kind of argument I’ve made. That is, I suspect if you made exactly your critique to the average pro-choicer, I don’t think they’d reply with my comment about policy and money. At least, I’ve never heard that argument from pro-choice people.


  5. The “get out of the bedroom” issue is whether the government should have the power to tell a couple whether to have a child. Generally such issues have been between the couple, since time began to be counted. In the U.S. in the 20th century, some states passed laws that banned certain marital practices. In Connecticut, the Griswolds were arrested and tried for having purchased barrier contraception. The Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a right to privacy, and that right encompasses reproductive rights, and the government has no privilege to enter a bedroom, literally or figuratively, to come between a married couple on issues of contraception, or conception.

    You’ll hate the note, but that’s only because it stings: The government of the People’s Republic of China agrees with you that the government should be in the bedrooms of its people. In their case, they use the intervention to insist that children NOT be born. James Madison noted that conceding such a power to government, either way, is ceding the power the other way. You argue the government should be in the bedroom now — your tune would change were the government to use that power to insist on abortions, as China’s government has.

    Most people, when pressed, agree that the decision whether to bear children should be left to the couple. The government should not have a role in that decision.


  6. My last comments were not as concise and gracious as I would have liked, so I’m replacing them here (one benefit of being able to delete comments!):

    The unborn are living human beings from conception, with unique DNA and 46 chromosomes, among other things. Their size (very small) and location (mother’s womb) do not change their humanity.

    The question of whether the government should be able to tell couples “whether” to have children relates to birth control. This post is about abortion. If the woman is pregnant, they already have created a new human being (i.e., “with child”). It just hasn’t been born yet. It is merely going through a normal stage of development which will continue after birth (i.e., newborn, toddler, adolescent, etc.).

    I think that when in doubt, the government should have less impact on our lives rather than more. But one of the functions of the government is to prevent murder.

    Of course I am against forced abortions in China. But the rest of the China example assumes a moral equivalence between killing the unborn and preventing the killing of the unborn. Using that reasoning with humans outside the womb would mean that, morally speaking, the government killing a 10 year old is no different than the government preventing the 10 year old from being killed.


  7. You’re beginning to see the legal issue. It’s the same issue Madison outlined for religious freedom — if the government has the power to push one’s religion, to promote one’s religion, it also has the power to suppress it.

    If we concede that the government may tell us we must bear children, we concede the power of the government to tell us we must not bear children.

    Do we want to let the government into our bedrooms to make those decisions for us? Most people say no, and with good cause.


  8. Unfortunately, you aren’t beginning to see that the unborn are human and that crushing and dismembering them is a profoundly bad thing. Do you think partial birth abortion should be legal? According to your reasoning, to prevent it would be to say that parents “must bear children.”

    By the way, “most people” (80%) are against partial birth abortion, so according to your logic it should be illegal. And more than 50% of people are against abortions after the first trimester, so I assume you actively oppose those as well. And soon a majority will be against the first trimester abortions (it is getting close, if not there already).

    With questions of life and death and morality, do you really want the majority to decide? Things like slavery and abortion are wrong no matter what the popular vote is.


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