In a similar vein to my post about Duck Dynasty and A&E’s clear message to Christians, I wanted to recall attention to this article posted on Salon, “So What if Abortion Ends Life?” and examine the 2014 attitude towards abortion from those who defend it.
The piece is just about a year old now, but I think it’s still pertinent because it still represents a kind of new, chilling honesty lurking in the pro-abortion movement. For comparison, I’d like to present an article posted recently on New Statesman: “The biggest lie of the anti-choice movement is that it is they who deal in harsh realities”
Perhaps not every advocate of abortion would agree with Mary Williams, the author of the 2013 Salon article, when she says that she thinks the movement should admit and embrace the fact that abortion is murder.
“Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.” (emphasis mine)
In a nutshell, Williams’ article condones oppression of the weak. ‘It’s OK to kill someone as long as they aren’t the ones with the autonomy’, she is saying, which was the same logic used by Hitler, slave owners, etc. Honestly, one of my favorite and most prophetic quotes from Orwell’s Animal Farm is here re-appropriated by Williams, and touted as a positive reality: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” (What if the woman who in this scenario is ‘the boss’ is at the mercy of a man who is raping her? In this moment, since he is now ‘the boss’, do her rights and her life no longer matter? I was not aware that human rights were predicated on spheres of power.)
Anyway, Williams’ article contained so much contradictory logic and coldness that I’m sure even some pro-abortion supporters felt the need to disassociate from such a view point as “I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.”
Yet I think she’s revealing a trend that is evidenced by the more recent article by blogger “Glosswitch” on the New Statesman, published last week.
“The alternative to abortion is not a new life in the abstract, but the experience of pregnancy and labour, and a lifetime of consequences that will be experienced in hugely variant social and economic settings. If we valued pregnancy and birth as greatly as we claim to, we would recognise the importance of allowing those faced with unwanted pregnancies to make their own decisions. However, there is a point at which anti-choice rhetoric cuts loose from any engagement with women’s lives at all.”
This is a seductive argument, at least on the surface, in that it seems to be a well-reasoned critique of the pro-life movement as so focused on the unborn babies as to ignore the very human needs of the mothers. Having worked in pro-life ministry for my Diocese, I know that the need for a holistic approach to the issue–to care for the mothers, the babies, before birth, after birth, and until natural death–is getting a great deal of attention and is gradually phasing out those last bastions of over-aggressive one-track-mind ministry. So, wouldn’t a piece like this be a pill better swallowed, since it should renew our desire to encompass all participants in a crisis pregnancy with love and support?
Aye, but here’s the rub. The Glosswitch article continues,
“I am pro-choice and I am willing to live with blood on my hands if it means all women have the choices I expect for myself. I don’t want perfection, I want humanity. Life is more than a flickering heartbeat on a black and white screen…We cannot have a sustainable, humane society without at the very least respecting each person’s right to own themselves.”
And there it is. We’re back to the “life worth sacrificing” mentality of the salon article–just slightly more sugar-coated. Some in the pro-life movement can be accused of focusing too heavily on the babies at the expense of the mother (in some cases–because let’s not be unfair to that minority of pro-lifers either: they would never turn away from a mother in crisis, it just isn’t their main focus sometimes). But is the appropriate response to that accusation to reverse the tables completely, and focus on the mother at the deliberate expenditure of the baby’s life? Of course not! Either you value and protect human life, or you do not. The moment you start to qualify whose life is ‘worth it’ and whose is not, you put your own life, and the life of anyone and everyone else, at the mercy of an arbitrary judge who may or may not think you’re worth saving.
Here’s the takeaway: While in the depths of the human heart, it has never been a question whether or not abortion is murder, I think we have come now to a turning point in the discussion. For 4 decades now, advocates of consequence-free abortion on demand have tried to convince women (and the public) that a fetus is just a blob of cells; that a baby isn’t a baby until it’s born; that a baby in-utero is just part of the mother’s body, over which she should have unquestioned dominion. The case for abortion was made in distraction from or denial of what was really going on.
Now, they begin to realize that ‘the centre cannot hold’ in such an argument. The bald facts of what kind of crime abortion perpetrates on an innocent human life become more readily acknowledged. ‘This is murder’, ‘the unborn are indeed live, human persons, and we are ok with killing them’, abortion-proponents now admit.
In some ways, this is horrifying. The extent to which we have devalued human life is shocking and heartbreaking. The say that any particular life just isn’t worth saving (especially when we are talking about a child) belies a deeply-seated cultural disease–a cynicism that expresses itself in a blind, almost catatonic, pursuit of pleasure without consequence. To prioritize the selfish desires of the mother over any right at all of the unborn child is definitively backwards.
Yet, as I felt after the Duck Dynasty debacle, this attitude gives me an odd kind of relief and hope. Finally–finally–we are speaking clearly to one another. Call abortion murder, and include an acceptance of that murder as a non-negotiable part of supporting this so-called ‘reproductive right’. If you are insisting on the ‘right’ to take another’s life, then be fully aware of what that means.
Fr. Pavone has said that America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion. This is, perhaps, what is beginning to happen. When even those who support abortion cease to pretend away its violent and murderous reality, perhaps ‘the truth will free’ at least some women who choose it as a result of the carefully constructed facade of harmlessness that the past 40 years have put in place. It is depressing to think we have gotten to a point where someone–anyone–could not only defend but embrace and attempt to justify the taking of an innocent human life; but at the same time, it is a hopeful sign that we are finally starting to look abortion in the face, and in so doing, we can only pray that the Holy Spirit will open more than just eyes.
(This piece was originally published at Forgetting the Cat)