Abortion: Where Conscience Meets the Womb
Back in October, I received an email from Patriot Update which listed the 11 enemies of "Life" in the U.S. Congress - those who voted for, or supported - the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion in American history. They wanted to use our hard-earned tax dollars to pay for insurance coverage for abortions, a procedure that too many find offensive to their conscience. The 11 representatives listed in the email were: Baron Hill (IN-9), John Boccieri (OH-16), Chris Carney (PA-10), Paul Kanjorski (PA-11), Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-3), Tom Perriello (VA-5), Alan Grayson (FL-8), Bob Etheridge (NC-2), John Spratt (SC-5), John Salazar (CO-3), and Joe Donnelly (IN-2). Of these 11, only Joe Donnelly was re-elected on November 2, and he managed to keep his seat by only 1% of the vote. It would seem that Americans have grown a conscience.
Then I remembered something I read in a Princeton University magazine. According to a Gallup Poll conducted in May of last year, 51% of Americans call themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% consider themselves "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of adults in this country have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.
It is said that a conscience without God is like a court without a judge.
It got me thinking about our country's stand on abortion and what the issues are on both sides. As we all know, abortion is the voluntary, or calculated, intentional termination of an embryo or fetus. I understand that reasonable people can debate when life actually begins and I understand that religion teaches that life begins at conception. Yet I somehow feel there could be some room for common ground in the very early stages of a pregnancy. But once there is a heartbeat, it would be impossible for me to imagine any reason why that living being should be terminated, absent an urgent dire threat to the mother's life. Yet as it stands now, abortions performed prior to the third trimester are legal in this country, thanks to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. [The decision states that since a fetus is not a human being and therefore has no rights, including any that are protected under our Constitution, the woman's right to control her fertility and reproduction ability naturally outweigh any possible rights of the developing fetus for the first two trimesters. With respect to the third trimester, the state may have an interest in protecting the life of the unborn and so it can regulate, but NOT when the woman's health becomes an issue. So Roe also shows great tolerance for the abortion of a baby that is ready to be born].
Pro-life groups believe in the sanctity of all life. They believe, as Ronald Reagan wrote so eloquently in 1983, that to diminish the value of one category of human life -- the unborn - diminishes the value of all human life. They believe that God is the giver of life. They believe that the embryo or fetus is "alive" and thus abortion is tantamount to murder. To them the question is not when human life begins, but rather 'What is the value of human life?' "The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother's body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being. The real question for him and for all of us is whether that tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law -- the same right we have." (Ronald Reagan)
Since the decision in Roe v. Wade, which stands for the legal fiction that a fetus is not a human being, more than 20 million unborn children have had their lives snuffed out by legalized abortions. That is well over ten times the number of Americans lost in all our nation's wars. In 1982 the nation watched as a court in Indiana allowed the starvation death of "Baby Doe" because the child had Down's Syndrome. The death of the tiny infant Baby Doe tore at the hearts of Americans because the child was undeniably a human being - alive. He was born mentally retarded and with an incomplete esophagus. He laid helpless before the eyes of the doctors and the eyes of the nation. The parents wanted to deny it a simple medical procedure to fix his esophagus so he could eat and they sued for the right to let him die. This time the issue before the court was not whether Baby Doe was a human being, but rather whether parents had the right to choose to terminate the life of their baby when it was handicapped or whether the state could step in and try to save its life. They sided with the parents. If Baby Doe received such little compassion from the courts, how do those who haven't had the opportunity to enter the world stand a chance?
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who in 1969 was a co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), later renamed the National Abortion Rights Action League, helped make abortion legal. He provided statistics to the Supreme Court in Roe to help support that decision. He was also the former director of New York's City's Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health, the largest abortion clinic in the world at the time. In the late 1970's he turned against abortion to become a prominent pro-life advocate, wrote Abortion America, and produced the powerfully revealing video, "The Silent Scream." He later admitted that the statistics he presented to the high court were intentionally misrepresented. Dr. Nathanson wrote: " I believe with all my heart that there is a divinity of existence which commands us to declare a final and irreversible halt to this infinitely sad and shameful crime against humanity."
Roe v. Wade and the continued devaluation of the unborn continues to prod the moral conscience of Americans.
Pro-lifers understand that they can't fully appreciate all abortion decisions nor the wrenchingly difficult dilemmas presented by their particular situations - such as those made by an ill-informed 16-year-old who made an impulsive decision or was coerced, or a college student who has an education ahead of her, or an unwed mother who can't afford to feed or take care of another child, or a woman who has had non-consensual sex, but they don't believe the solution lies in a deliberate act of destruction of human life. They don't believe an otherwise viable and living fetus should be killed because of inconvenience - or for any other reason, for that matter. There are options and resources. There is education and common sense. There is a lifestyle built on decent moral values, discipline, and priorities.
Pro-choice groups, on the other hand, believe that a woman should have access to whatever health care she needs and that she should have control over her own body. Of course, as Ronald Reagan once commented: "I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion is already born." Finally, there is the issue of state intervention and to what degree the state should have a say in a pregnancy.
There are some women (pro-choice) who believe that they have a fundamental civil right to have complete control over her fertility and therefore she should have the freedom to decide whether she wants to continue or terminate her pregnancy. Others simply want the right to an abortion to undue something they aren't capable or ready to deal with. Some have a change of heart and want to postpone having a baby until a future time. As Frederica Mathewes-Green explained: "No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg." Yet we all know that abortion is often performed with less consideration than that. It is often a woman's choice of birth control.... birth control after the fact. Sometimes many months after the fact.
Pro-choice for women means no-choice for men.
Career women overwhelmingly side with the pro-choice view. Women who consider themselves pro-life have typically been stereotyped as church-going women and those who are stay-at-home wives and mothers. They are often portrayed as not really needing the option of an abortion. In 2008, my husband and I attended a rally at East Carolina University for John McCain. Sarah Palin was the speaker. Although most of us thought the event would be mobbed by Obama supporters in protest of Ms. Palin's visit, there were no such mobs. In fact, the only protesters we saw were those who stood across the street carrying plenty of signs calling for the right of women to have an abortion if she chooses. As we were walking on the campus to the event, we saw a woman walking out of one of the University buildings, wearing a nice tailored suit, and asked if we were walking in the right direction. She made a snide comment about Sarah Palin and as we continued on our way, she shouted this to me: "You can't be a successful woman if you don't support abortion rights." Am I to believe that in order to be successful and respected in today's world, the innocent unborn might need to be sacrificed? Am I to believe that in order to be successful and respected, a woman must knowingly set aside the laws that God asks us to respect? Is that what it means to be successful? I don't think so.
In fact, I have these few words to say to those career women who gladly sacrifice the fruits of their womb for a chance to be a player in the business world ---
Just like Jesus was born to save those who believe, my children saved me. They saved me from a selfish, loveless life dominated by a career that often chews you up and spits you out. When I finished graduate school, when I was in my 20s and into my early 30s, I planned for a life of great accomplishment. I was going to be a great scientist. I was going to help understand the molecular basis of cancer and maybe find a cure. There was nothing inside me urging me to get married and start a family. In fact, at that point in my life, I didn't want children. And I was hoping I would find a man who would want the same. But God knew better. He knew more about my heart than I did. And he blessed me with a child right after I got married. I admit I was scared. I had no maternal instincts whatsoever (but was great with animals) and wasn't sure I would know what to do. But the minute I saw my daughter's beautiful face and helpless body, I was hooked. I knew I would love this little child every minute of my life. When I saw her fragile little body and the way she was so uncoordinated and didn't know how to do the simplest of things, I knew I wanted to care for her and keep her safe and comforted for as long as I was able to do so. By the time I left the hospital, I had already circled the dates I would try to conceive my next child. And only in having children of my own was I able to appreciate the depths of the unconditional and eternal love my own parents have for me. And that is the true meaning of life. It is the true circle of life. And like a circle, the love between parents and children are never-ending, just as God's love is for all of us.
To any woman unsure of her lot in life, I would offer this heartfelt advice: Don't make the mistake of thinking a career or anything else of such material worth is more valuable than the life-long love you experience and the life lesson you learn from being a parent.
The way I see it, the killing of an innocent viable fetus is utterly and fundamentally it is opposed to everything we stand for as a nation guided by Natural Law and memorialized under Christian values. The right to life is the foundation of every other human right that we hold so dear in this country. We hold vigils, we protest, and we march for the rights of violent criminals. We claim to be a compassionate society. We claim it is too inhumane to put to painlessly put to death those who violently took the life of other human beings. Yet we support the violent murder of the live unborn. Our compassion stops at the womb. Winifred Egan noted: "What an irony that a society confronted with plastic bags filled with the remains of aborted babies should be more concerned about the problem of recycling the plastic."
As Glenn Beck recently noted on his show: You can do jail time for killing an eagle's egg, but you are protected for killing a human child in the mother's womb. In our country the Bald Eagle is federally protected. And not just the living bald eagle but also the egg sitting in the nest. Anyone who tries to remove the egg or destroy it can be prosecuted by federal law. The only plausible explanation for criminal prosecution is that the taking of the egg or destruction of it prevents a bald eagle from being born. I have a question: How much more important is a child than an eagle?
We have an admirable history in this country of standing up for the inherent rights of human beings. We saw the injustice of enslaving Africans and treating them as property, and we fought a devastating Civil War to correct that injustice. When we realized that women were treated as property and were degraded, we fought for their dignity and equality. Yet the most vulnerable of all in our society - our unborn children - are still being treated as property to be disposed of as we see fit. I am baffled by the ambiguity... we can't commit to defining the unborn as a "human being" yet we call a woman "mother" or "Mom-to-be" upon the moment of conception and throughout her entire pregnancy we consider her to be "with child."
I have a Christian friend Bryan who ponders the reasons we mistreat others and the reasons for it. He is right that it is easier to marginalize a person or group of people when we diminish their worth and demean their inherent value. We already see how people dehumanize those persons that offend them or that stand in their way ideologically and politically. It is in this way they can mistreat them, strip them of their dignity, their worth, their property, and their lives. We saw the Nazis do this to the Jews and the Japanese do this to the Chinese during World War II and the years leading up to it. The U.S. did it to the Indians when the settled with West, the KKK did it to the blacks, and we do it today with the unborn under the guise of "woman's choice."
I remember an interview that Sean Hannity did with a young woman named Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor. I remember listening to what this miraculous woman had to say, which she did so very gracefully and eloquently, and having my eyes swollen with tears. Her message is the one people need to talk about.
On Sept. 15, 2008, Gianna addressed a crowd at Queen's Hall, Parliament House, in Victoria, Australia. She spoke on the eve of the debate that was to take place as to whether to de-criminalize abortion in Victoria and this is what she said:
"I'm adopted. My biological mother was 17. So was my father. My biological mother was 7Ĺ months pregnant when she decided to go to Planned Parenthood, which is the largest abortion provider in the world. They counseled her to have a late-term saline abortion which is a procedure where a saline (salt) solution is injected into the mother's womb, where the baby ingests it. The baby is burned inside and out and the mother is then able to deliver a dead baby within 24 hours. But to everyone's great shock and surprise, I didn't arrive dead, but alive. I was born on April 6, 1977 in a Los Angeles County abortion clinic. What's fantastic about his, about the perfect timing of my arrival, is that the abortionist was not on duty yet. So he wasn't even given the opportunity to continue on with his plan for my life - which was death. And I know that I am in a government building, and a beautiful one it is at that, and I love your country as well as my own, but I know that in the age we live in, it is not at all politically correct to say the name Jesus Christ in places like this. It's not politically correct to bring him into these types of meetings because his name can make people so terribly uncomfortable. But I didn't survive to make people comfortable. I survived so I can stir things up a bit, and I have a great time doing just that.
So I was delivered alive, as I said, after 18 hours. I should be blind, I should be burned, I should be dead. And yet I'm not. Do you want to hear a fantastic vindication? The abortion doctor had to sign my birth certificate. So I know who he is. And it also says in my birth records, for any skeptic listening, 'Born during saline abortion.' They didn't win. I've done some research on the man who performed the abortion on me and his clinics are the largest chain of clinics in the US; they gross over $70 million each year. I read a quote from him several years ago: 'I have aborted over a million babies. I consider it my passion.' I tell you these things because we are involved in an interesting battle in the world. It is a battle between life and death... of good and evil. What side are you on?
A nurse called an ambulance and had me transferred to a hospital, which is absolutely miraculous. Generally, the practice at the time in my country, and up until 2002, was to end the life of an abortion survivor - by strangulation, suffocation, leaving the baby there to die, or throwing it away. But on August 5, 2002, the extraordinary President Bush signed into law the 'Born Alive Infants Protection Act' to prevent that from occurring anymore.
I'm hoping to be hated by the time that I die so that I can feel God about me and understand what it was like to be hated. I mean, Christ was hated...truly hated by those whose existence he threatened. Like me. It's not that I look forward to being hated and I already know that along my journey, I'm already hated. I'm hated because I declare life. I declare: 'You didn't get me. The Silent Holocaust didn't win over me.' And my mission, ladies and gentlemen, among many things, is this: to infuse humanity into a debate that ignores it... to infuse humanity into a debate that we have compartmentalized. We have removed our emotions from the debate. Do you really want that? How much are you willing to take and how much are you willing to risk to speak the truth, in love and graciousness, and to stand up and at least be willing to be hated? Or at the end of the day, is it all about you?
And so, after I was born, I was placed in an emergency foster care home where they decided they didn't like me very much. I don't know how they could not adore me right from the start. What was wrong with those people? But they didn't like me. They couldn't learn to love me. You see, I've been hated since conception, by so many.... but loved by so many more, and especially by God. I'm his girl. You don't mess around with God's girl. I have a sign on my forehead that says: 'You better be nice to me because my Father runs the world.'
After I was placed in the mean home, I was taken out of the mean home and placed into a new home - a beautiful home... Penny's home. And Penny said that by this time, I was 17 months old, 32 pounds of dead weight, and diagnosed with what I consider the gift of cerebral palsy, which was caused directly by the lack of oxygen to my brain while I was trying to survive. How I am compelled to say this: If abortion is merely about women's rights, what were mine? There were no radical feminists standing up and yelling about how my rights were being violated that day. In fact, my life was being snuffed out in the name of women's rights. And, ladies and gentlemen, I would not have cerebral palsy had I not survived what I did, so when I hear the appalling, disgusting argument that we should have abortions because the child just might be disabled... Ugh... The horror that fills my heart.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are things that you will only be able to learn from the weakest among us and when you snuff them out, you are the ones that lose. The Lord looks after them, but you are the ones who will suffer forever from their loss. And what arrogance... what absolute arrogance in the argument that has been made for so long in this human place that we live in that the stronger should dominate the weaker. That they should determine who lives and who dies. I can't believe the arrogance in that. Don't you realize that you can't even make your own heart beat? Don't you realize that all the power that you think you possess you really possess none of it. It is only the mercy of God that sustains you - even when you hate him.
So they looked at my dear Penny and they said: 'Gianna will never be anything,' which is always encouraging. But Penny decided to ignore them and she worked with me three times a day. To make a long story short, I was walking by 3Ĺ with a walker and braces, and I stand up here today before you with a mild little limp and without a walker and without braces. I fall gracefully sometimes and very ungracefully other times, but I consider it all for the glory of God. You see ladies and gentlemen, I am weaker than most of you, but this is my sermon. What a small price to pay to be able to blaze through the world as I do and offer hope. And I think in our misunderstanding of how things work, we misunderstand how beautiful suffering can be. I don't suggest that you willing sign up for it, but when it comes, we forget that God is in control and He often has a way of making the most miserable thing beautiful.
I have met my biological mother. I have forgiven my biological mother. I am a Christian. She is a very broken woman. She came to an event that I was having two years ago. She showed up unannounced and said: 'Hello, I'm your mother.' It was a very difficult day and yet, as I was sitting there, I kept thinking: 'I don't belong to you. I belong to Christ. He loves me. I'm his girl and he treats me like a princess.'
So, ladies and gentlemen, you have an opportunity. But for just one moment, I'd like to speak just to the men in this room: Men, you are made for greatness. You are made to stand up and be men. You are made to defend women and children and not stand by and turn your head when you know murder is occurring and do nothing about it. You are not made to use women and leave them alone. You are made to be kind and great and gracious and strong, and to stand for something. Men, listen to me... I'm too tired to keep doing your job.
Women, you are not made for abuse. You are not made to deny your worth and your value. You are made to be fought for.. forever.
So now is your moment.... What sort of people are you going to be? I trust incredible. I trust, men, that you will rise to the occasion. To the politicians listening, particularly to the men, I would say this: You are made for greatness. Set your politics aside. You are made to defend what is right and good. This fiery young girl will stand here and say: 'Now is your moment. What sort of man do you want to be? Are you going to be a man obsessed with his own glory or a man obsessed with the glory of God? It's time to take a stand, Victoria. This is your hour. God will assist you. God will be with you. You will have the opportunity to glorify and honor Him in 2008.'
I will just end with this. Some of you might be slightly annoyed that I keep talking about God and Jesus. But how on earth can I walk about, limping, through this world and not give all my heart and my mind and my soul and my spirit and my strength to the Christ who showed me mercy and gave me life. So if you think I'm a fool, it's just another jewel in my crown. My whole intent in living here is simply to make God smile.
I hope some of this makes sense. It just came from my heart. May God bless and keep you."
Wow. Imagine living your life knowing you weren't wanted, and even worse, that of all the options available, death was the most convenient.
Simply put, the abortion of a viable fetus is the thoughtful premeditated decision to take the life of another human being. Out on the streets we call it first-degree murder - a capital crime.
God created us and gave us the gift of life. He gave us our free will and fundamental liberties yet set limits on them. We know these limitations from reading the Bible.
In this country alone, we acknowledge that our fundamental rights and liberties derive from God and his benevolent nature. And only those fundamental rights are the ones protected by the Constitution. The right to take the life of a viable fetus would never be a right granted by our Creator.
Instead of conforming their behavior to God's expectations, it is much easier to deny the role that God has played in our founding. It is much easier to take the watchful eye of God out of society and all reminders of his laws. Instead of people looking to God's law and conforming their behavior accordingly, they live their lives as a complete free-for-all and then seek to invalidate God's law to absolve themselves of their immoral acts.
Mother Teresa once asked: "If we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"