Last week, around the 40th anniversary of the controversial Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand, I came across an article written for the online magazine Salon.com.
The article was written by Mary Elizabeth Warren titled, “So what if abortion ends a life?”. The sub-heading sums up what you will read, jaw ajar, from the rest of the article. The sub-heading is, “I believe life starts at conception and its never stopped me from being Pro-Choice.”
Here let me let the author speak for herself. She states:
“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.
When we on the pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us illogically contradictory. I have friends who have referred to their abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages. Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.
When we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs. second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person. Are you human only when you’re born? Only when you’re viable outside of the womb? Are you less of a human life when you look like a tadpole than when you can suck on your thumb?”
You can read the whole article here.
I must admit this article sent chills down my spine, but not for the reasons you might think. In some small way I admire Ms. Warren, at least she is being honest about what she believes, even if brutally. I was shocked because she is saying what we in the pro-life camp have been arguing all along. That, at the moment of conception, there now exists a life, not cells, but a unique life. She is conceding to the fact that we have been right. We are right to see that life begins at conception and what is really at stake is what we as a free society chose to do with that life and how far we are willing to go to protect it.
Her argument seems to be: “Yes, its life. So what? The mother still has the ability to choose for that child whether it should live or die”. The rights of the mother, some how mysteriously gain more value, than the child. This is a chilling admission. You could say it a different way, though I believe she would try to wriggle her way out of being put into this corner. The rights of the more powerful, outweigh the rights of the weaker. (Hello Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Jung Ill, etc) She is in many ways trying to change the nature of the debate, and she might succeed in doing so, but for the time being, I think there are two main reasons that her article gives hope to those who work with women on the cusp of making a real life changing decisions.
1. I hope that this article will embolden Pro-Life workers in pregnancy resource centers around the country to see that science, logic, and 40 years of abortions have come to the conclusion that, yes, we are taking the life of a child when we commit abortion. I hope that pro-life advocates will see Ms. Williams’ article as an admission to that fact. We won that battle, but the war is not over. Hopefully, that admission will embolden counselors all over this country to pursue their work with continued vigor. I hope that it will give pro-life workers a renewed boldness as they sit across from a young woman contemplating abortion that there are truly wrestling with a matter of life and death. I hope it will give them renewed boldness to delicately, but confidently affirm the importance of the decision this woman is getting ready to make. I hope they will have the boldness to lay the argument out in a loving way, but not be afraid to say to a women or a man if front of them, “What you do from now on will not change whether you are a father or mother, it will only change the nature of your relationship to your child. You will either be a giver of life or a giver of death.” Hard truth, but doesn’t that child deserve from us the willingness to say hard things even if they make others uncomfortable? I hope this article gives people the ability to say bold things in the cause of life.
2. The other, more important aspect of this article, that may just save some children’s lives is that this article removes the moral ambiguity that the pro-abortion (yes, pro-abortion not pro-choice) movement has used to medicate women with. Let me explain. Not all women who get abortions first walk into a pro-life pregnancy resource center, but many do. Those who don’t are wrestling with the decision enough to see what all these pro-life people might have to say. This article probably doesn’t help those women and children. But many women do walk into a pro-life pregnancy center to get a second opinion. I have first hand experience of this. I have talked with men and women wrestling with this decision, some choosing life for their child others choosing death by abortion. And I think this article will help stir those that are wrestling with this decision, who come to pro-life pregnancy resource centers to be more likely to choose life. Why? Because many of the men and women I have met in my experience aren’t staunch pro-choice supporters. Many of them find themselves in a situation in which they don’t know which way to turn. I would say that many of them are pro-life in general, but given their unique circumstances are leaning more towards abortion. What often times seemed to push them more towards abortion was the ambiguity of the pro-choice movement, the pro-choice pain-killer you might say. Their conscience told them it was wrong, they felt some pull towards carrying the baby to term, yet their life circumstances and the fog of this decision was pulling them in another direction. What this article does, and why it helps the pro-life movement is that it removes the pro-choice ambiguity that so many men and women use to muffle their conscience. It removes the pro-choice pain-killer that muddies the waters and numbs these women. It doesn’t allow that young man and women the ability to hide behind their decision as if they aren’t doing what they are really doing. It removes the vague virtue of being pro-choice and boils it down to this:
Is this baby inside you a unique life?
Pro-Choice says: YES
Pro-Life says: YES
Then what are you going to do about it?
Pro-Choice says: Your rights are more important than the baby’s. Do as you please.
Pro-Life says: That life is worth protection and you have a moral duty to protect it. You are not alone. We will help you.
It at least makes them have to face up to the moral decision before hand rather than spending a life time trying to quiet their conscience inside them with some trumped-up pro-choice justification.
I am sure Ms. Williams believes that the time is right to take this debate further down the road. I am scared to see where her logic leads us. But in the meantime, I believe that there will be some women and men, when the moral ambiguity of their decision is removed, when they won’t be sheltered by the pro-choice pain killer of abortion not taking the life of another, when the virtue of abortion really comes down to a wrestling match of the more powerful over the weaker, will see fingers and toes. Will see a baby and not a tadpole. Will see themselves as a lover and not a killer. And just might disagree with Ms. Williams and act upon the notion that their life is not more valuable than the life inside them.