Voices

Diversity of life

Opposition to abortion spans ideologies and ethnic groups

Issue: "Post-party election blues?," Nov. 6, 2004

Today's political culture demands diversity, and a preelection meeting sponsored by the National Pro-Life Religious Council shows that the pro-life movement has it in abundance. Representatives of groups not normally considered pro-life demonstrated the many reasons-from within their ideologies-to oppose the medical slaughter of unborn children.

Democrats for Life, for example, cite their party's long record of fighting for the underdog. Kristen Day, the executive director of the group, called for the election of pro-life Democrats to help change what has become the "Party of Death." Ms. Day said she hopes for a "pro-life majority" consisting of all political parties, so that "no matter who is in charge, the pro-life position will always prevail."

Libertarians tend to favor individual freedom to the point of favoring the legalization of drugs, prostitution, and other "victimless crimes." And for the most part, they instinctively agree with "the woman's right to choose."

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But Libertarians for Life makes a libertarian case against abortion. "I'm a Jewish atheist and a former abortion choicer," said Doris Gordon, head of the organization, "and I am happy to admit that the pope is right on abortion." She went on to make a rigorously logical case why abortion is unlibertarian. There is no such thing as a potential human being, she argued, and thus the child before birth deserves his or her own liberty. There can be no right to kill an innocent person.

As for the hard cases, Ms. Gordon's logical syllogisms allow for no exceptions. In a pregnancy due to rape, "If A (the father) harms B (the mother), that does not entitle B to harm C (the child). What if the mother's life or health is at risk? In such cases, so is the child's. . . . This is mainly a problem for medicine; physicians must remember they have two patients to look after."

The pro-life movement also has ethnic diversity. The head of the group Indians for Life, Little Hawk Hernandez, a Lakota Sioux, lifts up the Native American example "of not killing our unborn babies, elders, and people that are handicapped or sick." Black Americans for Life sees legalized abortion as being particularly devastating in the African-American community. "Abortion has become the new form of black genocide which is systematically destroying about 400,000 black babies every year," said Day Gardner, director of the organization.

The National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life backs up the charge. The group cites evidence that a disproportionate number of abortion clinics are located in black neighborhoods and that 35 percent of all abortions are committed against black women, who represent only 13 percent of the population.

Many pro-lifers are conservative evangelicals and Catholics, but pro-life groups also exist within liberal denominations. The United Church of Christ Friends for Life and the Lifewatch Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality oppose abortion in the name of social justice. "Like no other domestic problem," said Paul Stallsworth of Lifewatch, "abortion is an exercise of raw power against the weakest."

So many different perspectives make for fresh arguments in the crucial battleground of public opinion. When people tell you they are pro-choice, suggests Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, ask them to describe the choice. "And if it is too terrible to describe, why is it not too terrible to permit?"

Dennis DiMauro of Lutherans for Life cites Bonhoeffer's warnings against "cheap grace" and challenges each Christian to bear the Cross in self-sacrifice: "If the pro-choice candidate promises me more income, I will still vote for the pro-life candidate. If the pro-choice candidate promises me more security, I will still vote for the pro-life candidate. If the pro-choice candidate promises me free medicine, I will still vote for the pro-life candidate."

There are lots of reasons, from many different points of view, to be pro-life. Medical science keeps adding to the scientific evidence that the fetus in the womb is a human child. As pro-lifers win the rational arguments, the pro-abortionists have retreated to their two last and desperate bulwarks: "Women should be able to choose whether or not to have their babies," and, more importantly, "the courts say abortion is OK."

As a moral position, just asserting "choice" cannot be coherently defended. As a political position, though, the stranglehold of abortionists on our legal system will be harder to dislodge. To do so requires changing public opinion across the whole spectrum of the culture. And despite legal and political setbacks, in the long march through the culture, pro-lifers are making progress.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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