This past weekend, Jessa Duggar Seewald (one of the famous 19 Kids and Counting kids, now grown up), announced that she’d had a miscarriage. Ordinarily, this would call for something like human compassion. But instead, the response has been equal parts dishonest and cruel.
For instance, on Monday, Jezebel published an article entitled “Jessa Duggar Seewald Had an Abortion, Even If She Won’t Say the Word,” by Caitlin Cruz. In it, she complains that “People magazine and other outlets accepted Duggar’s framing of the experience as a ‘miscarriage’—which would be fine, except that an anti-abortion celebrity literally having an abortion is probably something that’s worth discussing honestly.”
The whole point of contention is that, after she miscarried, Duggar Seewald had to have a “D&C,” the dilation and curettage of the uterus. Women who have suffered miscarriage know that this is fairly routine to ensure the mother’s health. But pro-choice activists imply that D&C is only done (as Emily Bloch describes in the Philadelphia Inquirer) “in cases of dangerous, unwanted, or non-viable pregnancies.”
And so, the argument goes, Duggar Seewald is a hypocrite. How can she be against D&C procedures that kill children and be okay with D&C that are safe and harmless? Only they don’t put the argument that clearly, since it would be immediately clear how bizarre the argument really is.
The whole thing is certainly cruel and tacky, exploiting her family’s tragedy to try to score political points. But it’s also almost comically misinformed about medicine, pregnancy, and women’s bodies. Simply put, D&C after miscarriage isn’t an abortion in either the medical or popular sense of “abortion.” Doctors sometimes call miscarriage a “spontaneous abortion” in medical literature, in the sense that the pregnancy has spontaneously stopped. But that happened long before Duggar Seewald’s D&C. In other words, this D&C wasn’t terminating a “dangerous, unwanted, or non-viable pregnancy” or “an abortion” in any sense. The child had died three weeks earlier.
That distinction—is the child in the womb alive or dead?—is the whole point of the pro-life argument. We’re not inherently opposed to medically dilating the uterus, or D&C procedures. We’re opposed to intentionally killing unborn children, whether by a pill, a D&C procedure, or any number of other ways. Claiming hypocrisy here is akin to saying that you can’t be opposed to school shootings if you’re okay with shooting ranges, since both involve pulling the trigger of a gun.
The scientific difference between ending the life of an unborn child and removing them from the womb after they’ve died naturally isn’t a particularly subtle one. But it’s one that pro-choice activists want you to forget about. Because once you acknowledge abortion isn’t natural like miscarriage, and isn’t harmless like a post-miscarriage D&C, then you have to face the awful reality of what abortion really is. Easier to just lie about the science, I suppose.