Monday, January 28, 2013

Life Matters

TX State Sen. Dan Patrick at TX pro-life rally Saturday
photo from Dan Patrick's Facebook page
I don’t often write about the issue of abortion, because there are so many dedicated civilized people who express well the side of life. I thank them for that. But this past week marked 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision, and after so many millions of babies have been killed, I want to add my voice at this time.

There is a rhetorical technique used by the opposition to truth: deny and contradict over time, then admit to the veracity of the statement while adding, “So what?” Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman” is a classic example. Months later, after all the denials, when the proof was undeniable, he admitted to the original accusation along with, “It was only my private life,” a version of so what?
Hillary Clinton used it this past week in her “testimony” to Congress about Benghazi. She said,
With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.
We know for certain—and she knew the day of the event, if she wasn’t entirely out of the loop of national security—that it was neither a protest nor “guys out for a walk”; it was terrorists. So, months after the event, saying over and over, “we don’t know,” when we know, and we know she knows, she deflects by avoiding the real issue and saying, “what difference does it make?” or, in other words, it doesn’t matter, who cares? so what?
I had not expected the so what? technique to be used on the abortion issue. But that is what I recognized this week is now happening.
The argument over abortion has continued to be over whether the fetus is human life or not: if yes, then that human life is to be valued and protected as other human life; if not, then the woman is simply making a choice about a clump of cells that are part of her own body. This same argument has continued for decades.
As technology gets better, it has become clearer and clearer that the growing fetus is a human baby, with its own DNA separate from the mother’s, with the ability to feel and hear within the cushioning environment of the womb—including feeling pain. Technology has improved greatly on moving the viability to earlier and earlier weeks. The result of this technological progress has been that only a handful of doctors are still willing to perform third trimester abortions; people who understand the procedure are virtually unanimous in disapproving of partial-birth abortion. Laws now recognize the death of a fetus as separate and additional to the death of a mother in accidents or murders.
What I expected, being the positive, civilized person I strive to be, is that more and more people would become convinced that the growing life is a valuable human life, and would move from “the choice is up to the mother” to “because it’s human life, we need to value and protect it.” What I did not expect was the so what? at this point.
Mary Katherine Ham wrote a piece last week referring to a Salon piece that I find shocking. The Salon writer, Mary Elizabeth Williams, admits, very clearly, as practically any pro-life person would, that the fetus is a human life separate from the mother. These are the paragraphs Ham highlights:
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?
As I said, I would expect such understanding to lead to the decision to protect life. But Williams goes the exact opposite direction. On the pro-life side (actually, on the side of truth for many issues), we are subject to the imposition of terms from the opposition. Pro-choice is an example. This term is particularly repugnant because it’s not about choice to act; it is about choice of consequences. If a woman purposely engages in sex, she has made the choice to risk pregnancy—the creation of a new human life. If she does that and then finds she is pregnant when she doesn’t want to be, does she then have the right to choose to avoid the natural consequences—when a separate human life is now involved? Pro-life people are pro-choice—you get to choose your behavior, but God’s natural laws choose the consequences that follow your choice.
The president revealed his disapproval of God’s law when he said (off script at a Townhall in Johnstown, PA, during the 2008 campaign), of the hypothetical that one of his own daughters could finding herself pregnant, “If they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” This is the same person who, in the Illinois legislature, went further than any pro-abortionist to insist a mother has the right to bring about the death of a baby after birth if she hadn’t intended for the baby to be born alive.
The Salon writer expresses her distress that the term “pro-life” is too strong to fight against. So, she grants that the fetus is indeed a human life, and then says so what?
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….
The “life” conversation is often too thorny to even broach. Yet I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me. I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life. And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.
She believes, unlike our founders, that some human life isn’t worth protecting, but calls those of us who believe “that all men are created equal” are “wingnuts” and “archconservatives” and “right wingers,” while insisting her viewpoint is the reasonable side of the debate.
So let me be clear: there is nothing civilized about a person who chooses to kill a human life because it is not convenient for her to allow him or her to live. That behavior—the very line of thinking that leads to that behavior—is savage.
Thank the Lord if you can still recognize the difference. The slip from apparent civilization to savagery among the Germans and Japanese in the last century was amazingly swift. It coincided with the faulty belief that some human lives are inferior and not worth bothering about.
In a civilized world, we can never say, “So what if it’s human life? What does that matter?” Life matters.

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