No "national dialogue" on abortion

Both William Clinton and Barack Obama have called for a national dialogue on race. Because this issue divided the country before and after independence, entailing slavery and then segregation; and because it continues to divide the country with the current reverse discrimination, the call struck few people as unreasonable. Unfortunately, those making the call are less interested in dialogue than they are in stigmatizing anyone who disagrees with them as bigots and racists. President Obama has acknowledged that the issue of abortion also divides the country and has made similar dialogue gestures. But, given his thoroughly pro-abortion position, it is unlikely that any national dialogue that he supported on that issue would be any more productive than one on race.

My own experience confirms this. Abortion generates more outrage whenever I write a column about it than any other except homosexuality/gay marriage. Last week’s column drew five responses off site (three opposed, two supporting). In spite of my pessimism about a national dialogue led by a Democratic administration, I favor a dialogue on abortion.

Surely no such dialogue would serve any purpose if it were merely an academic exercise. No political debate occurs in a vacuum: while people are talking, babies are being killed. Pro-lifers favor a debate because they want abortion on demand to end. Pro-aborts oppose it because it they want no restrictions on abortion. It’s that simple.

I am grateful to those who commented on last week’s column, even if they find my arguments wanting. A person who emailed me from Kansas, the state in which the recently murdered George Tillman performed late-term abortions, said that I "glorified" women who refused to abort their babies, even in the face of dangers to themselves or their babies. This error is explained by the fact that I hold abortion to be "wrong period."

Regular readers here know that I do not oppose abortion "period" but give principled reasons based on the political philosophy of the Declaration of Independence. Few critics of abortion are blind to the fact that there are hard cases, such as rape and incest (which make up a tiny percentage of them). But as Oliver Wendell Homes famously said, "Hard cases make bad law." In order to accommodate those rare cases, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the exception to swallow the rule. Abortion on demand is the law.

More to the point, children being diagnosed in their mother’s wombs as defective are not being given the benefit of any doubt. Whereas the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath enjoins doctors to err on the side of life, the abortion "ethic" mandates just the opposite. Is this not appalling?

One opposing reader makes the point that abortions are very hard for women and that none would consent to a late-term abortion unless the need was compelling. But that is hard to square with the massive number of abortions performed since 1973 (45 million and counting), not to mention the attraction of Dr. Tillman for those "rare" cases.

Most doctors want nothing to do with abortion, and most abortionists don’t perform them late term. Is this reluctance explained by some mild anxiety, or is it genuine moral revulsion at crossing what used to be regarded as a very bright line, whether early or late in pregnancy?

Another critic reminds me abortion has been the law for 36 years and urges me to "get over" my opposition to it. Thirty six years is a long time from one point of view, but for those who waited 100 years for racial segregation to end it is not so long, and for those who waited much longer for slavery to end, it is a trifle. Prolifers have patience.

The bedrock pro-abortion position is that every woman has a right to control her own body. Yet the baby growing inside her is not her body but someone else’s. Slave holders argued over a century ago that every black they held by force was their "property," and demanded protection for it. Is there any difference in principle between these positions? I await a response.

And the similarities do not end there. Slave masters denounced opponents of slavery as insurrectionists, just as proaborts routinely call their critics "terrorists." Both became "tired" of criticism and favored ending it. Nothing would satisfy slaveholders then, or proaborts today, until everyone calls them right.

Let the dialogue continue.

Abortion stalks women every day

From time to time the issue of abortion is a matter for political controversy, but for women it is an issue every day. With 45 million abortions for the last 36 years, that is, 1,500,000 annually, 125,000 monthly, 28,846 weekly and 4,109 daily in this country. Those children could have been men and women who became mothers and fathers, employers and employees, civilians and soldiers, craftsmen and professionals, and so on. But abortion is an ever-present temptation, legal for all nine months of pregnancy for any reason.

Last year when I was on the campus of Barstow Community College, I encountered a small group of young people who identified themselves as Survivors, meaning they were born since January 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade invalidated the laws of all 50 states with varying degrees of restrictions on abortion. The Court found them in violation of a recently discovered "right to privacy" that included the power to take human life in the womb.

These young people are alive because their mothers decided to bear them. Advocates of abortion emphasize that this decision is "personal," suggesting that no one should take that from women. But they ignore the fact that reassuring authority figures, from politicians to doctors, are pressuring them to "terminate" their pregnancies.

Take the case of M, who is pregnant with her first child, having waited nearly four years after marriage, but is having difficulty all during her pregnancy. Bed rest is prescribed, and the labor and delivery look to be yet another challenge. She is comfortably cared for in a hospital room that resembles a nursery, in which compassionate care givers want only what is best for her.

For those months of waiting the "choice" is gently proposed of avoiding all difficulty by a procedure which will eliminate the "problem" and postpone birth to some other pregnancy. But the young woman ignores the entreaties and goes ahead with 33 hours of labor and a difficult delivery anyway.

Then there is A, who has given birth in marriage, but that marriage is over and she has met another man who captures her heart but also gets her pregnant. There is no shame these days, it seems, in unwed pregnancy, but she is in the midst of her higher education and means to become a professional, a teacher it turns out. Abortion was a theoretical but not a real possibility for this young woman who, with the support of her family and church, gave this child up for adoption to a childless couple.

Finally, there is H, who has already given birth to two children and her husband has had a vasectomy so that their budget is not strained by another child. But, lo and behold, she learns that she is pregnant anyway, her husband’s timing being a little off. In a visit to her doctor she is told of a procedure known as amniocentesis, the results of which will tell her if hers is a healthy child and in particular whether it is a Downs Syndrome baby.

She surprises, nay, horrifies the doctor when she declares that she is not taking the test, for she is going to give birth to that child whatever its condition. The doctor can hardly believe what he is hearing and remonstrates with the young woman for not taking this "sensible" precaution. But H is adamant and when the doctor pushes back she says, "Go ahead and schedule the test but I won’t show up!"

The massive issue of abortion is dealt with every day by women such as these acting from their minds and hearts to do right by their children. But a powerful array of perhaps well-meaning but definitely misguided persons requires them to affirm what was rarely questioned in an allegedly less "enlightened" time. Then abortion was viewed as a criminal act that both threatened the health and life of the mother and was at war with her natural desire to give birth to a child.

Despite the legal status of abortion, abortionists are still not seen as respectable people, just as slave catchers were low on the list of possible friends despite centuries of legal slavery. "Law never made just what is by nature unjust," declared George Washington when speaking of Great Britain’s exploitation of colonists. Somehow, despite the easy choice of abortion, millions of women know that abortion is the wrong choice and refuse to make it. God bless them.

Abortion, slavery both founded in violence

The recent murder of George Tiller, the famous late-term abortionist in Kansas, brought differing reactions from the pro- and anti-abortion movements. The former saw it as the predictable consequence of anti-abortion speech and the latter reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful political action to overturn abortion on demand, the decree of Roe v. Wade (1973). The defenders of "reproductive choice" have declared in statements to the media that it is not enough that Tiller’s murderer be charged and ultimately convicted of that crime, but that it be treated as a form of "domestic terrorism." U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is already pursuing that course.

The pro-life movement is very concerned that it will be unfairly besmirched by the actions of a tiny few. I don’t know if the acts of violence against abortion clinics or practitioners are as numerous as abortion supporters say or as few as abortion critics maintain. But I do know that pro-life organizations do not endorse violence.

In any case, abortion is an act of violence. If successful, it always results in the death of a preborn human being, developing in the mother’s womb. As such, it is a violation of the natural right to life, not to mention liberty and the pursuit of happiness, with which all human beings are endowed by their Creator.

However, it has been the law of the land for 36 years and it must be obeyed. Laws can be changed, and this one ought to be as soon as a majority of both houses of Congress and the President pass a law removing the regulation of abortion from the U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.

That will be a long time, I fear. If it is any consolation to all of us who are pro life, slavery was legal in this nation for 250 years before its demise, the latter thanks to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and the passage of the Thirteen Amendment (1865). I pray that we do not have to wait that long, but I know that it will never happen unless Americans come to look upon it as a wrong, just as they did slavery.

It so happens that an event akin to the murder of George Tiller occurred in October, 1859, when the radical abolitionist John Brown led a raid on Harper’s Ferry, a military outpost in Virginia, in order to seize arms and ammunition for the purpose of equipping slaves sofor an insurrection to destroy slavery. The plan failed and culminated in the hanging of Brown and his collaborators.

Soon slaveholders and their allies were demanding a federal law to suppress all speech and writings against slavery, on the grounds that it incites violence against an institution which was, sad to say, protected by the U.S. Constitution. President-elect Lincoln made it clear that he would never sign such a law, not because he believed no speech whatsoever should be curbed, but because it would be wrong to prosecute anyone for speaking the truth!

In a letter Lincoln wrote to his life-long friend Joshua Speed in 1855 when violence broke out over the attempt to introduce slavery into the Kansas Territory, the future president saw a link between  introducing slavery and the violence that resulted. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, he wrote,

"was conceived in violence, and is being executed in violence. I say it was conceived in violence, because the destruction of the Missouri Compromise [which had kept slavery out of the Louisiana Territory], under the circumstances, was nothing less than violence. It was passed in violence, because it could not have passed at all but for the votes of many members [of Congress] in violence of the known will of their constituents. It is maintained in violence, because the elections since clearly demand its repeal; and the demand is openly disregarded."

These strong words are no less applicable to Roe v. Wade, which legitimated the violent act of abortion, was made supreme law without the action of our elected representatives, and has been declared a "super precedent" that cannot be overturned even by peaceful means. In the wake of the Tiller murder, we are seeing calls to suppress the opinions of those who oppose the "procedure" which has resulted in the lawful deaths of more than 45 million babies.

We should condemn the murder of anyone, whether it be a man empowered by an unjust law, or the victims of his despicable acts.

Condemning the evil murder of Dr. Tiller

Dr. George Tiller's murder in cold blood at a Wichita church today should shock the conscience and grieve the heart of every thinking person -- especially persons of faith, and above all, those of us who defend the right to life. Wichita Eagle story here. This evil and lawless act deserves absolute condemnation. It is in no way excusable, regardless of the slain man's inexcusable career as an abortionist.

I hope you will join me in praying for Dr. Tiller, for his family and loved ones, for his killer, and for the quelling of passions on all sides that would threaten peace and order in our land.

The Aussie & the atheist

What some people won't say about themselves with bumper stickers or tee shirts. I saw a charming one and an infuriating one this week. "Good grammar costs nothing," said the Asian girl's shirt in line behind me to board a flight. Such exhibitionists either want or deserve remarks from strangers, so I asked her what it meant. Standing up for the English language when most people no longer bother, she replied in a thick Aussie accent. My sentiments exactly, I said. Los Angeles would be her last stop homebound after six weeks of travel in Europe and America. In the worst economy since the 1930s to hear some people tell it, mind you.

"Religion stops a thinking mind," scolded the tee on a dumpy fat guy at the pizza parlor last night. It was illustrated by one of those stat-line medical monitor waves. Him I didn't accost because A, I didn't trust myself to be civil, and B, his childish plea for attention merits nothing so much as cold silence.

After a moment I realized the slogan was someone's oh-so-clever twist on "Abortion stops a beating heart." I wanted to ask his rejoinder to that undeniable fact, and to pile on with the additional facts that abortion really does stop (or forestall) a thinking mind as well as extinguish (or divert from this world) a feeling soul.

I wanted to challenge him for examples of societies where God is ignored or banned but free and noble thought flourishes -- or to refute the conclusive truth that thought has risen highest in those societies where God is lifted highest.

But it would have been a waste of breath, so I just ate my pizza and reflected on the late George Roche's mordant comment, "The world is full of slobs." Yet not quite full of them, for there is still room for the occasional grammatically idealistic Aussie Asian girl. And thank heaven for such as she!