The Washington Post’s Self-Defeating Argument for Abortion
The Washington Post ran an odd headline last week, “An abortion ban made them teen parents.” The article, which exceeded 5,000 words, attempted to humanize an argument in favor of abortion but failed to demonstrate anything but abortion’s inhumanity. It tells the story of Billy and Brooke High, a 19-year-old couple with one-year-old twin daughters. The High family is far from perfect — yet equally as far from an irredeemable fiasco.
As The Post tells the story, Billy and Brooke weren’t married — and didn’t plan to be — when, as a natural consequence of their fornication, Brooke became pregnant in the spring of 2021. They wanted to abort the babies, but that wasn’t an option. Billy and Brooke lived in Texas, which had just passed a law protecting unborn babies from abortion at any stage of development, and the nearest place to obtain an abortion was a 13-hour drive away. (Because of this, the Post’s headline blames the law, and not their own actions, for making them teen parents).
The High family’s marriage is shaky, and Billy and Brooke attend marriage counseling (counseling that doesn’t seem to give particularly good advice). The couple is not in love, and The Washington Post reports flaws in each member that (justly) irk the other. Billy spends too much time playing video games, has a phone addiction, and looks at other women. Brooke frequently yells at him and nags about him not pulling his fair share of housework. They’ve thought about getting divorced, but they want their children to have parents to stay together.
“If they didn’t have the babies, Brooke and Billy both concede that they probably wouldn’t still be together,” The Post narrated. “Now, with two children, they are permanently linked.” This, notwithstanding their indulging in acts which God designed to be reserved for the marriage relationship — acts that contribute to the relational intimacy of marriage as “one flesh.” With two children, they are now linked as God intended them to be.
The twins’ arrival derailed life plans for mother and father. Brooke was about to start real estate school, and now she’s a stay-at-home mom. (Although the article ends with her seeking alternate career options.) Billy was making minimum wage at a burrito restaurant, with ambitions no higher than landing a Wal-Mart job for better pay. His dream, per The Washington Post, was “skating every day [he and Brooke met at the skate park]. Partying at night. No worries.” To support his wife and children, Billy got a job as an Air Force mechanic making an annual salary of $60,000. “He wasn’t excited about it, but he couldn’t see another way to support a wife and twins,” said The Post.
Speaking of supporting a wife and twins, that’s one thing Billy got right. Again, from The Washington Post: “Everyone in his life — his parents, his favorite teacher — told him it was the right thing to do. So Billy committed, marrying Brooke at the courthouse last summer and signing an Air Force enlistment contract that would keep him in uniform for the next six years.” He sacrificed his pleasure-seeking life of unattached singleness and shouldered responsibility for his actions. In other words, he grew up a little.
The only other negative experience mentioned in the article was the feeling of isolation both Billy and Brooke experienced. In some ways, that’s a side effect of being a 19-year-old married couple with twins, in a time when many couples are putting off having children until closer to 30. In other ways, it’s a side effect of taking a military job 1,000 miles from home. But I couldn’t help thinking, as I read the article, that the real antidote to the Highs’ loneliness is a robust church community — and, of course, the Christian faith that goes with it.
This raises the question, why did The Washington Post believe their story presented a compelling case for abortions? Sure, Billy and Brooke have problems and struggles. Any 19-year-old married couple with twins would. But their problems are not beyond the pale of those faced by millions of other marriages. Nothing about this story is so shockingly horrible as a single abortion.
The Washington Post even reported Brooke wondering, “If I would have had the abortion …” She stopped. “I can’t even think of it that way now,” she said. “Those are our babies, and they’re people.” Yes, they are.
One might even hear echoes of earlier generations in Billy and Brooke’s story. Talk to any couple who has been married for at least 30 (and preferably 50) years, and they will tell you there were challenges they had to overcome, conflicts they had to work through, and sacrifices they had to make. But many of them will also tell you that they’re glad they made those sacrifices.
The tapestry woven throughout The Post’s account is that Billy and Brooke had to abandon their dreams to be parents, and that that’s bad. But that confuses real life for a Disney movie. One cannot go on living young, carefree, and unattached forever. Life consists of more than “The Bear Necessities” or “Hakuna Matata.” Biblical scholar Carl Trueman explores how this self-focused worldview has poisoned our society in his excellent work, “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.”
Life should really be about serving others. This, and not our questionable self-definition, is what truly shapes our identity. This defined Jesus’s earthly mission. As he said, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). Christians are called to the same attitude (Philippians 2:5-8) — particularly husbands (Ephesians 5:25-28).
Glossed over in The Post’s account is the life of High twins. True, it admits that these two beautiful, fun-loving, and intelligent little girls are the delight of their parents. But it dances around the fact that these two lives nearly met a gruesome, untimely end. The logical conclusion of The Washington Post’s advocacy for legalizing abortion is that the career ambitions and carefree pleasure of two young adults matter more than these two precious lives. But “following your dreams” is not an excuse for causing the unnatural death of your own children in utero.
If anything, the story is a cautionary tale against immaturity and sexual promiscuity. The message should be that of abstinence education: conceiving children is a natural result of sex. So, if you don’t want to parent children when you’re immature and unmarried, don’t have sex when you’re immature and unmarried. For the past 50 years, many politicians and educators deprioritized such a message because they viewed abortion as a barbarous sort of “safety net.” Now that states have been freed to abolish the horrific practice, abstinence education is all the more urgent.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.