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.

"Ad hate-a-man" argumentation

Nothing is more vital to a healthy body politic than reasoned debate. But that hardly means it is very welcome, as the side with the least defensible argument has the most to lose. The fallacious argument known as "to the man," or "ad hominem," is the most common weapon resorted to when an advocate can’t win an argument on the merits. It attacks a person rather than his argument. In this era of unprincipled politics, ad hominem argument has long since morphed into what I’m calling "ad hate-a-man," or the claim that arguments disliked are really based on hatred of members of groups rather than on any legitimate points. Since races, genders, "lifestyles" and religions distinct from the presumed white, male, Christian majority in America have become privileged, minions of the far left castigate their critics as racist, sexist, homophobic bigots.

Criticism of racial preference schemes, such as affirmative action or racial diversity, in which members of minority races are given the edge in hiring, college admission and contracting, is invariably put down to racism. The initial and wholly defensible goal of the civil rights movement half a century ago was a color-blind society in which merit rather than race was the basis for distributing jobs, schooling and business. But that was abandoned before the ink was dry on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and honored today only by those who oppose racial preference.

Similarly, if anyone suggests that the natural differences between men and women are of more than passing significance, especially where strength, endurance and decency are relevant, they are dismissed as sexists wanting to keep women "barefoot and pregnant." Nor do the interests of women themselves matter very much to advocates of "liberation" if they are so benighted as to prefer marriage and family to a lifelong career in the marketplace.

The most potent form of "ad hate-a-man" currently concerns the homosexual agenda. Routinely, whenever anyone argues that the natural division of the human race into men and women indicates that homosexuality, lesbianism, etc. are not a basis for marriage, it is often the occasion for screaming and, at times, violence. Homosexuals who keep their relations private but do not support "gay marriage" are not uncommonly "outed" for their apostasy.

There was a time, not long ago, when the Judaeo-Christian tradition in America, which combined government neutrality regarding religious denominations with robust Biblical faith among our people, was a solid basis for both good government and good citizenship. As statesmen from George Washington to George Bush emphasized, morality does not exist in a vacuum and, for us, is the beneficent contribution of Biblical faiths.

Nothing symbolized this tradition more than public ceremonies, such as graduations, where pastors, priests and rabbis alternated in the offering of invocations and benedictions. That this is not unconstitutional is attested to by the fact that our Declaration of Independence teaches that our rights as human beings derive from our Creator, Who is referred to as lawgiver, Divine Providence and Supreme Judge of the World.

The Old and New testaments teach a morality based on piety and emphasizing reverence for parents, self control and respect for the rights of others. The American founders did not need to conjure up some "new morality" that was appropriate to life in the new republic. The morality of the Bible was more than sufficient.

Nothing is more central to the practice of that morality than love. Believers are taught that sin, or falling short of the glory of God, is to be avoided and certainly not to be loved. But nothing in that teaching prescribes or even implies hatred for the sinner. Those who insist otherwise are mistaken.

There is much concern about torture, or alleged torture, these days, which may be seen by some as simply being subjected to something they dislike. Would it be torture for those who believe that Christians and Jews are hateful, particularly those who reject abortion and same-sex marriage, to sit through a service and be subjected to all that alleged hatred?

Or would they be shocked to find out that believers are admonished to "judge not, lest [they] be judged?" Indeed, past critics of Christianity feared that its "nonjudgmental" attitude was inconsistent with the requirements of citizenship. But believers have long appreciated the fact that greater freedom of religion exists in this country than in any other and their patriotism runs deep.

All that "hatred" which some profess to see in those who disagree with them exists only in their imaginations.

Mere Christianity

Slated on Backbone Radio, Apr. 12 Listen every Sunday, 5-8pm on 710 KNUS, Denver... 1460 KZNT, Colorado Springs... and streaming live at 710knus.com.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you Easter. It's the holiest day of the year for Christians, and an important day for everyone in the world because of Jesus' unequalled impact on the world these past 20 centuries. If you have ever read C. S. Lewis, you know there are few writers more gifted in explaining who Jesus was and why he matters, in a way that speaks to any thoughtful person, not just believers. If you have not read Lewis, let us read him to you this Sunday in a special edition of Backbone Radio.

Assisted by my daughter Tina, I'll present two hours word for word from the central chapters of Mere Christianity, Lewis's best-known work of nonfiction.

"The Rival Conceptions of God"... "The Invasion"... "The Shocking Alternative"... "The Perfect Penitent"... "The Practical Conclusion"... "Let's Pretend"... and "The Obstinate Tin Soldiers." Our selections from this Christian classic all originated as radio talks in the 1940s. Join us as we return them to radio for Easter 2009.

That will be the 5pm and 6pm hours of our April 12 show. At 7pm we'll present Women Speak Out, my interviews with three of the 39 women legislators who make Colorado tops in the country for female state reps and senators.

And that's fitting, too, come to think of it -- since Christianity has done more to benefit women than any other religious or political idea in history.

Whether this weekend for you is Easter, Passover, or just a family day with bunnies and eggs, we wish you a happy and blessed one. Remember that, as always, a full podcast of our show will be available on BackboneAmerica.net starting Monday night.

Yours for new life, JOHN ANDREWS