Corporations Are People, Unborn Children Aren’t

Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen speaks at a protest against anti-abortion legislation at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2019. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

As CEOs back abortion on demand, progressives are prepared to use corporate influence to enforce their twisted morality.

In the wake of outrage over abortion restrictions, corporations can be people once again. Afraid of losing access to “reproductive rights,” progressives have rediscovered their fondness for using corporate influence to cow their moral inferiors into submission.

The latest culprit in need of chastisement is the pro-life movement, which after decades of persistent work has sustained several consecutive months of policy success, passing legislation in state after state to limit the killing of unborn human beings.

Accustomed to the country’s longstanding regime of abortion on demand, our cultural gatekeepers are incensed at their first taste of defeat — and only a moderate one at that. Thanks to Anthony Kennedy, none of these restrictions will take effect unless the Supreme Court hears a challenge to Planned Parenthood v. Casey and affirms states’ right to regulate abortion. Though momentum seems to be shifting in the pro-life direction, such a moment likely is still far off.

But that hasn’t prevented a left-wing outcry the intensity of which suggests it is abortion above all else that dominates the minds of the men and women leading our nation’s foremost companies. Spearheaded by Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, nearly 200 CEOs have signed a statement titled “Don’t Ban Equality.”

Penned in Planned Parenthood’s signature font — though you have to read the website’s “About” page to uncover the prolific abortion provider’s predictable involvement — the letter insists that “it’s time for companies to stand up for reproductive healthcare.”

Signed by the CEOs of Bloomberg, Square, Slack, MAC Cosmetics, Warby Parker, Postmates, and Yelp, among others, the letter also appeared as a full-page ad in Monday’s New York Times. And it wasn’t the first act of corporate resistance to pro-life legislation; just a few weeks ago, several major film companies loudly mulled over whether to cease production in Georgia over the state’s effort to regulate abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

In their haste to assist women supposedly dependent on abortion to flourish in our economy, these CEOs seem to have forgotten the progressive edict that “corporations aren’t people.” The most recent iteration of this argument was handed down during the debate over the HHS mandate, which required businesses to cover contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in employee health-insurance plans.

Hobby Lobby, we were told, could not refuse to comply on moral grounds because Hobby Lobby is a company, not a person. Its owners’ personal beliefs mattered not at all. Progressives objected to the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, asserting its beliefs, in the same way that they objected to Citizens United: vociferously.

It is, of course, a total myth that corporations can’t act as people under U.S. law. The very first provision of the U.S. code denotes “person” as including corporations, and an 1819 Supreme Court case arguably initiated the concept of “corporate personhood” under the Constitution. The progressive framework on this point, then, is fundamentally wrong, and left-wing partisans go on to apply this misbegotten principle inconsistently.

Corporations can’t be people and can’t espouse beliefs — until those corporations are run by people espousing beliefs that reinforce the spirit of the Left’s cause du jour. The same voices that tried to compel the owners of Hobby Lobby to contradict their conscience were overjoyed when CEOs, including Apple’s Tim Cook, threatened to boycott Indiana over the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Now that abortion access is on the chopping block, it has become imperative for corporations to have their say. A recent Washington Post analysis suggested that “corporations have been deafeningly silent” on abortion restrictions, “despite years of speaking out on social issues.” The author noted that “a confluence of forces could make it more challenging for companies to remain quiet on the sidelines, dragging them into a contentious national discussion at a time when more employees and consumers expect corporations to take a stand on social issues.”

Aside from revealing the Left’s own contradictions on corporate personhood and social justice, the stand taken by this week’s corporate manifesto exposes one of the sinister principles animating progressive support for abortion. “Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, . . . is bad for business,” the CEOs assert. This isn’t the first time in our history that a significant faction of the country has justified perpetrating a grave moral evil against the human person for the sake of economic gains.

The letter, and this line in particular, should come as little surprise. Abortion is a boon to corporations and a false promise to women. Who is a more valuable worker and efficient investment: the woman who takes maternity leave to have a child and perhaps never returns, or the woman who uses abortion as an emergency contraceptive so she can devote herself fully to her career? Businesses have every financial incentive to hire the latter, and women face substantial financial pressure to live like her.

The abortion industry and its political advocates have sold women a bill of goods, insisting that equal participation in the economy must be purchased at the price of our unborn children. Corporate leaders are wise enough to know that they, not women, are reaping the rewards.

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