As we approach the 37th anniversary of Roe V. Wade this weekend, I can’t help but think about how the divide between pro-life advocates and abortion advocates can be closed. In so many areas of politics, there is such a different world-view that the divide is impossible to close. If, like me, your world-view is that we are truly endowed by our creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you cannot reconcile that view with the modern progressive view. Where my world-view values the individual, the progressive world-view values the collective. No amount of negotiation or discussion is going to change those views.
I always thought abortion was the same. Either you are pro-life, or you are pro-choice. However, I’m no longer certain of that. The trends among the younger generation are toward the pro-life stance. One recent Knights of Columbus poll suggests 58% of those from 18-29 see abortion as morally wrong. I realize some might question the impartiality of the Knights of Columbus, but this is not the only evidence. Students for Life chapters on college campuses have increased from 181 in 2006 to more than 570 today.
There are a lot of theories about why this is happening. My own opinion (Yes, I realize my opinion and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee.) is that there are two primary reasons for this trend. First, technology has made it much easier to see that babies in the womb are, in fact, people, not just blobs of flesh. Second, I think there is a natural push-back against the self-indulgent attitudes of their baby-boom parents. Regardless of the reasons, this is a great opportunity for the pro-life community to save more lives!
If we want to capitalize on this trend though, we have to ask ourselves what we really stand for. And this gets to the point of my headline. Middle ground on the abortion discussion, frankly, is morally indefensible. If a pro-abortion person truly believes that a pre-born baby is not a life, they are not being immoral in their approach. In fact, they have a perfectly defensible position based on their beliefs that there is no life to defend. In short, while I vehemently disagree with them, their position is intellectually honest.
This is where those trends come in. With improvements in technology in imaging and life saving, we see that earlier and earlier term babies are viable. When a baby born at 5 months is now likely to live, it is harder to say that it is not a life. So, some of those “pro-choicers” peel off and become pro-life. The more we can do to further this, the more progress we will make. We don’t need everyone to agree with us, just another 15-20% of the population. That is possible with these advancements.
Most who are pro-life believe that life begins at conception. If you believe this, calling for making it illegal to get an abortion is entirely defensible and is also intellectually honest. Unfortunately, many Republicans fall into a trap of not being intellectually honest. They do that because they are looking for middle ground, or they simply put power above principle.
When one believes life begins at conception, how can you ever take that life? Rape and incest are often cited as exceptions to one’s pro-life stance. I don’t know how you can reconcile that with believing life begins at conception. Sure, for many, it would be hard to carry a child conceived through rape. But, is there any circumstance where it would be acceptable to kill a child who is already born because it was conceived through rape? Of course not. But, if you believe a conceived child is a living child, you believe there is no difference between an in uterus child and an out of uterus child.
How can you reconcile killing one of those children? And, more importantly, how can you then win the hearts and minds of those who are pro-choice, but only because they believe an unborn child is not truly a life? So, I am saying being pro-choice because you don’t believe the pre-born baby is not a life is a defensible position. Believing life begins at conception, then not defending that life because of how it was conceived is not a defensible position.
I am truly confounded when I look at the percentage of Down syndrome babies that are aborted. This is another area where some who profess “pro-life” beliefs lose credibility. In researching this, I found statistics that suggest anywhere from 80-90% of Down syndrome babies are aborted while around 22% of total babies are aborted. I think it is safe to say that it is not likely that only pro-choice women get pregnant with Down syndrome babies. So, I can only conclude that many so called “pro-life” people are making the same decision.
Some will argue that they have bad lives or are subjected to too many medical procedures. That argument, if followed to its natural conclusion, would also suggest we euthanize any person who is deemed to have no chance of a healthy productive life as measured by some arbitrary definition of what productive is. There is a commercial that is running on TV today where a girl with Down syndrome is being crowned homecoming queen. Can anyone look at that girl and say that she should have been aborted because of her “condition”?
Finally, I can’t end without discussing President Obama’s stance on abortion. He is intellectually honest when it comes to abortion, he would go further than virtually any elected politician in history in devaluing not only the unborn, but even the newly born. While it was not widely discussed in the mainstream press, some of us know about his vote when he was a state senator in Illinois.
There was a case where a baby was aborted, but born alive. The baby was placed alone in a broom closet to die. A compassionate nurse held the baby for an hour or so until it passed away. After that, a bill was introduced in Illinois that would have required care be given to an infant born alive even if the intent had been to abort. Obama was the ONLY senator to speak against that bill. We all know that then-Senator Obama voted present when he was an Illinois Senator over 100 times. On this life and death vote, he voted against life because a baby born alive after an intended abortion was not worthy of life saving care because it might undermine abortion laws according to Obama.
Some may also remember Obama’s response to an abortion question during the Presidential campaign. Obama responded that if his daughters made a mistake (got pregnant), he did not want them to be punished (carry the baby to term) for that mistake. We all know how great of an orator Obama is, so I suspect he knows how to say exactly what he means. Maybe withholding medical care to an unwanted baby is what Obama means when he says things like “we need to expand our moral imaginations.”
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