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Clarity of thought and expression about moral issues is not a core competency of CEOs.

If anyone had any doubt, look no further than the “historic” pro-abortion statement by nearly 200 CEOs that ran in a full-page ad in The New York Times.

It is a festival of absurdity and euphemism, an exercise in perverse virtue-signaling to a progressive audience that believes that maintaining one of the most permissive pro-abortion regimes in the developed world is a virtue.

The CEOs define abortion as “equality” (“Don’t Ban Equality”) and, of course, refer to it as “comprehensive reproductive care,” the ubiquitous phrase that has the advantage of sounding like the opposite of what it’s describing.

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

The CEOs contend that abortion is central to their businesses, which might be true if all of their companies had the same business model as Planned Parenthood, one of the organizers of the effort.

But Bloomberg L.P., Amalgamated Bank and H&M, to name three of the companies whose CEOs signed the ad, are hardly dependent on abortion to thrive.

The old saw was, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” Now, according to top CEOs, what’s good for abortion is good for American business. They seem to consider abortion a crucial component of GDP just like personal consumption, business investment, government spending and net exports.

They argue that “equality in the workplace” is an important business issue, and it is impossible to achieve without unrestricted access to abortion. Any restriction “threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers.”

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The idea that abortion is necessary for the health of women is one of the most misleading pro-abortion cliches.

Comprehensive data from Florida last year shows that three-quarters of abortions were elective, and another one-fifth were for social and economic reasons. A small percentage involve a threat to the mother’s life or health, and pro-life laws account for such cases — even the sweeping Alabama law has a health exception.

The contention that restrictions put “the economy at risk” is nonsensical. Are we supposed to believe that the reduction of the abortion rate in the U.S. from its high in 1980 of 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age to its post-Roe v. Wade low of 14.6 as of 2014 has been a calamity for corporate America? On what grounds? Do these CEOs really lament that we don’t have the abortion rate of Bulgaria, Cuba or Kazakhstan?

By this standard, Utah must be a terrible place to do business since its abortion rate is so low, and the District of Columbia an enticing place to do business since its abortion rate is so high. (To the contrary, Forbes ranks Utah as the second-best state for business in the country.)

The implication is that these CEOs prefer that their employees and customers not become mothers, or if they are mothers, not have more children. It apparently hasn’t occurred to them that unborn children will grow up to buy their products or perhaps work for their firms one day, and indeed all the employees they claim to be protecting were themselves, once, vulnerable in the womb.

At the end of the day, their argument isn’t really about restrictions being “bad for business.” What they care about most is that such policies, as they say, go “against our values.”

The CEO ad is another sign that the debate over abortion has entered a new phase.

It isn’t enough to say that abortion should be safe, legal and rare, the old Bill Clinton formulation, because that implies a moral disapproval. Now, abortion is a positive good. A stance that used to be limited to the fringes is mainstream enough that CEOs are willing to sign up for it.

Pro-life laws will have to prevail against this inflamed pro-abortion sentiment — and the swath of big business that shares it.

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Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

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(22) comments

DMoney

It doesn't surprise me that large corporations and CEOs would advocate pro-choice. Maternity leave is costly. Lots of lost production. Sick, but true.

Cassandra2

What an idiotic statement, D-Bag, but it's just what we've come to expect from you. The reality is that businesses are doing their fiduciary duty by protecting their corporate brands from being associated with the support (tacit or otherwise) of laws that the majority of the population oppose. Your glib remark shows the height of your privilege and the depth of your misogyny.

DMoney

Behold, C-bag, defender of capitalism at all costs, even in the face of morality. "Abort away" says she. "Just so long as they are using our clinics, bent coat hangers and ziplock bags".

Cassandra2

Corporate leaders have long been at the forefront of equality, realizing it is a good business practice. Large corporations often drive the equality agenda through hiring practices and benefits packages. For Lowry to ignore history is foolish, though utterly predictable.

oldhomey

And one wonders if Lowry feels American CEOs are also foolish in their massive opposition to Trump brandishing tariffs against all of our trading partners like a thug brandishing bats and brass knuckles.

DMoney

I'm going to save this and quote you on it in the future C-bag.

oldhomey

Well. D, my naive young friend, let me let you in on a secret. When I started my career in the 1960s with a very large corporation, one I stayed with for my entire career, it hired no blacks and the women it hired were treated like afterthoughts, certainly not the equal of the male employees. I thought that was just life, how things were and would always be. But something happened in the late 1960s and early 70s, when corporate leaders began seeing the turmoil spreading through society, correctly ascertained that the system was rigged against minorities and women, and that corporate life contributed greatly to the inequality. I can't speak for other corporations, because I wasn't a witness to any but the one in which I worked. But they began pushing to hire more minorities and women, and they began pushing to get them into positions of authority. I thought it was unfair, at the time, that males were being passed over for plum positions to get less qualified women and minorities into those positions. At times that was true, at first, but four decades later, the office was incredibly diverse, and the people who had the plum jobs and supervisory positions were proven talents and highly competent. A much, much better place to work than it was in the 1960s in that regard. I think corporations often ride roughshod over the public, but in that case they -- or at least the one I worked for -- were enlightened and a positive force for long overdue changes.

DMoney

I'm not disagreeing. The motive wasn't/isn't one of righteousness but one of profit, that I guarantee. I'm just going to put this one in my back pocket for the next time you all are talking about evil corporations.

oldhomey

Well, that was clear from the start, D, that you think in the future that you will accuse me of being two-faced when, in the future, I take corporate America to task for being immoral and cold-hearted, ignoring workers and the communities they live in. But there is no dichotomy. Corporate leaders were ahead of the general public in the 1960s in seeing the need of rectifying the unfairness of employing and treating women and minorities equitably with white males. It was an urgent matter of self-preservation for themselves and, possibly, for our society. We should all be grateful they saw it. It does not absolve them of other unfair practices.

DMoney

So you find it immoral to publicly declare support of a procedure, whether acceptable or not is tragic, for the primary benefit of profits?

oldhomey

Your !0:51pm post is a classic example of a rhetorical question. It is based on a false premise and thus has no answer that would satisfy you.

Cassandra2

Oh, you'll remind me when companies do their duty as corporate citizens and advance an agenda of equality that also aligns with the financial interests of the company? Interesting. I look forward to schooling you further in the future.

DMoney

You believe this support of pro-choice has as much to do with equality as it does profits?? Fascinating.

oldhomey

Mr. Lowry often has trouble with the truth, and this column is a glaring example of the difficulties he is having with it. He wants to imply from the get-go that the U.S. is somehow an outlier in the family of nations, with some of the most radically liberal abortion laws on the face of the Earth. Far from it: " The divide is fairly obvious. With a few glaring exceptions like Ireland and Poland, wealthy industrialized countries and formerly communist nations—the First and Second worlds, to use the outdated Cold War terminology—have liberal abortion laws. Developing countries do not. (Another exception to that broad trend: Russia has added a slew of new restrictions on abortion, justified in part by concerns about the country’s low birthrate.)" You will notice it is largely nations controlled by dictators who outlaw abortion. In this country, and in all nations that accept abortion, I would hazard to say, if you are against abortion, it is your right to do so. But it is not your right to deny the rights of any woman. If the right-wing extremists continue to try to rescind Roe v. Wade with backdoor tactics like packing the Supreme Court, they will set the stage for the destruction of the Republican Party, led by very angry women voters.

DMoney

Is it my right/responsibility to intervene when I witness child abuse? Is a child's rights less than that of it's mother?

oldhomey

D, when you witness a young pregnant woman and her doctor in the act of murdering a perfectly normal, healthy, full-term or near-full-term newborn because the woman didn't want to be bothered with motherhood, it would be okay for you to call in the authorities. It would not be okay to call in the authorities on the strength of what you imagine to be true, even if you are certain that it is your "right" to do so. You would probably get sued for plenty, and rightfully so.

DMoney

If only she would say vocally that it's because she didn't "want to be bothered". You and I both know, she'll say she's suffering from mental health issues. It's as easy as that.

oldhomey

You can assure us of that until the cows come home, D, but you clearly do not know what you are talking about and have nothing to base it on.

DMoney

I admire your faith in humanity, however unfounded it is. I hope it hasn't bitten you too hard in your life.

Cassandra2

Homey, you can chalk it up to Lowry's failed belief in American "exceptionalism."

DMoney

You so not believe in American exceptionalism? Even Obama would (begrudgingly) disagree with you on that...

DMoney

Do*

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