I am heartened to see that abortion has become a central issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. I am even more happy to see that the Democratic Party is spending far more time discussing it this time around than the GOP. While I certainly hope the Romney-Ryan ticket steps up and delivers a strong pro-life message in the final months before the election, the fact that the Democrats are now making such a big stink about it demonstrates that even they must acknowledge the awesome power of the pro-life movement.
This movement, of which I consider myself a small and rather insignificant (but eternal) member, is more than political lobby. Unlike the various lobbies that represent the special interest groups and key demographics that prop up both the Democrats and the GOP, the pro-life movement represents a group that can’t vote, can’t contribute to campaigns, and can’t even speak for itself, the truly least among us.
Given this new-found interest in abortion, the sort of things people are likely to hear as the DNC continues to unfold this week, and the fact that I believe basic refreshers are good from time to time, I want to discuss the pro-life point of view a bit. I cannot be comprehensive here, but I will raise some of the issues I think are fundamentally important in this debate.
Many of our opponents do not really understand what it is that motivates us and drives us. To them, to quote one pro-choice radical feminist I recently witnessed on a news program, we pro-lifers apparently believe that “a fetus has more rights than a pregnant woman.” Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. We believe in accordance with the Declaration of Independence, that all men (males and females) are endowed with inalienable rights at the moment of their creation. The life inside the pregnant woman is not more valuable than the pregnant woman; they have the same value and are worthy of the same protection under the laws of a just, civilized, and humane society.
And what is this thing, this “fetus” we apparently get so worked up about? Our opponents usually classify it as a blob of cells, or perhaps more generously as a “potential person.” A potential person, in their view, cannot carry the same moral importance as what I imagine would have to be called an actualized or fully-realized person. Take a moment, however, to think about this concept: a “fully-realized” person.
When did you stop growing? When did you stop becoming? At what age did new information cease to alter the way in which you interact with the world and shape your perceptions of reality? Almost every cell in our bodies will die and be replaced. Many of our old memories will disappear and be overwritten by new ones. Our beliefs, our values, our relationships, our very identities will change over the course of our life. Who we are today is so radically different than who we were ten years ago that it seems almost absurd to talk about a “fully realized” person. Life is an indivisible and miraculous journey from the first division of the first cell until the moment we die.
Abortion does more than harm and ultimately destroy an innocent, defenseless human being in the womb, however. It has an effect on everything: on the mother of the aborted child, on its father, on the child’s siblings, on the doctor who commits the wicked deed, on the nurses who aid and abet, on the receptionists who work at the front desk, on all of society, which grows more callous and more indifferent towards the truly vulnerable (as opposed to victim groups conjured up for political gain). It is a violent, destructive process that results in the dismemberment of a tiny human being, a recognizable human form. As long as this deed was done in the dark people could imagine it was just some cells being sucked out of a uterus, but thanks to us the world now knows what it really looks like.
Is this who we are as a people? Is this what we want to be one of the cornerstones of our civilization, one of the evidences of how far we have “progressed”? To speak of “progress” becomes impossible in the presence of such barbarism!
Many people who have heard one or two things about logical fallacies in their lives will say that pro-lifers are guilty of using the “slippery slope” fallacy. But it is not a fallacy in itself to simply point out the potential consequences of a course of action. In my view, the arguments that deny the “personhood” of the unborn child in the first-trimester easily apply not only to the unborn child in later trimesters, but infants, small children, the mentally disabled, people in comas, people severely addicted to drugs, the elderly and even people with low IQs. It is only a matter of time before what professional “ethicists” prescribe in their academic literature begins to get a fair hearing from the increasingly secular governments of the Western world.
Who is to say how far the principles currently applied to the legal termination of unborn human beings can be taken? Even people who cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the existence of a God who cares must see the potential danger, a downward spiral into a collective cruelty and callousness towards the voiceless and the weak from which humanity may not recover.
There are also those who believe that legalized abortion is compassionate. “Think of the terrible lives these unwanted children would live,” they implore us. Even if what they posit is true, the right to life means that I, and only I, have the right to decide whether or not my life is worth living. I was never the property of my mother, to be disposed of as garbage after suffering a violent dismemberment. I was a a created being with rights from the beginning, and so were you, and so were all of the countless millions of abortion’s victims. With that said, however, no one knows how any life will turn out, or what greatness and glory can be salvaged from a life of poverty, illness or abuse.
In conclusion, an excellent pro-life activist once summed up the entire abortion issue in two very succinct statements that I use to this day:
If abortion isn’t murder, then no argument for it is necessary. If abortion is murder, then no argument for it is possible.
All that matters in this debate is whether or not abortion constitutes the morally unjustifiable killing of an innocent human being. Absolutely nothing else is relevant. The moment you bring up difficult life circumstances, the societal burden of “unwanted people”, the alleged population problem, or even what must be called the property rights of the mother, you’ve completely missed the point.