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We are all abortionists

This isn’t a rant about President Obama’s support for abortion rights. It’s a call for people in all political parties across the globe to acknowledge their role in the Culture of Death, which is an attitude. An attitude that violence and/or coercion are acceptable ways to meet our needs.

While I was on a retreat last month, I spent some time with a book written at the dawn of legalized abortion in this country. The book was:

Hilgers, T. W., & Horan, D. J. (1972). Abortion and social justice. New York: Sheed & Ward.

The book is a collection of essays addressing different aspects of abortion – medical, social, legal, etc. I only had the chance to peruse chapter 9, “Is abortion the best we have to offer? A challenge to the aborting society.”

In that chapter I found this intriguing quote. If you’ll substitute “Culture of Death” for abortion society, I think you’ll find that it sounds like it could have been written last year:

In order to begin our participation in this change of heart, we must begin by recognizing that we are all, in one way or another, part of the aborting society (how many people have you rejected or been destructive to today?) Not until we as individuals begin to recognize our own participation in the aborting society — that we, every day, close ourselves off from people around us and from ourselves, that we are, indeed, part of the problem — will we ever be able to become part of the solution. Our recognition of our participation in the aborting society must be on a deeply personal level; so personal that it compels major attitudinal changes in our own self-extension.

Conventional pro-life thinking as I understand it is that legalizing abortion in this country unleashed the Culture of Death and that the only way to restore a Culture of Life is to ban abortion. Respectfully, I think we have it backwards. I believe that our preexisting Culture of Death and rejection facilitated the legalization of abortion. This seems particularly plausible to me because there have been many past and current death-embracing regimes like Romania and the leadership of Hamas and Fatah who reject abortion. Add to that the people who find it acceptable to kill abortion doctors or bomb clinics in the cause of stopping abortions. Being deeply anti-abortion is no guarantee that one is pro-life. And the authors of Social Justice and Abortion got that.

But I believe that abortion, like torture, unjust wars, persecution of immigrants, etc, is an evil that needs to be addressed. And I’ve kept quiet about it for too long, as someone who has great respect for non-violence. I’ve kept quiet in part because there’s so much shouting going on that no one is listening. I also have to confess that I feel that writing on this subject will be a thankless task, bringing slings and arrows from friend and foe alike.

But writing on this subject is what I currently feel called to do. In the coming weeks (or months) I’ll be posting along these themes, roughly in order:

  1. The current status of state, national and global abortion statistics and possibly a few ideas on how to improve them.
  2. Some profiles of countries that appear to have half or lower of our abortion rates, possibly with some lessons on what we might learn from them.
  3. Several posts examining the elements of the Democrats for Life 95/10 Initiative, which I think is our best hope for reducing the number of abortions in this country.
  4. Thinking about ways to move from a Culture of Death to one of Life that gives more than lip service to the ideal of total respect for life from womb to tomb.

Along the way I hope to highlight interesting news stories or reports that deal with strategies to reduce abortion.

But the very first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one. I think whether you consider yourself pro-life or pro-choice, you don’t take abortion lightly. Leaving aside the destruction of the unborn, it is a surgery than can leave physical and emotional scars. You can’t convince me that it is something that any woman takes lightly the first time it happens.

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At the risk of turning more of you off to what I have to say, I guess it’s only fair to let you know my personal beliefs on abortion:

  • I think it is done far too much in this country and across the world. In coming weeks I’ll show you that it is the leading cause of death here and abroad, as far as statistics tell.
  • I don’t believe that abortion should be outlawed until such time that every possible societal support for mother and child has been put into place — and we are many years from that happening, even with the 95/10 plan. Decades from now when this is accomplished, I would support a ban on abortion with exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. I would need details on “health of the mother” before I signed off on such an exemption.
  • I don’t believe that you can reduce abortions while stigmatizing motherhood.
  • I believe that abortion is the taking of a human life, but I don’t consider it the exact same as murder. In murder you always have the choice of fleeing instead of killing. You cannot run away from an unborn child. Additionally, for most of the pregnancy, the baby does not appear to be self-aware. I am always going to more horrified by village massacres and cluster bomb deaths than abortion clinics because those folks know what is being done to them.
  • I oppose any sort of governmental funding for abortions. People’s tax dollars shouldn’t be taken to kill other people. For the same reason, I oppose continued funding for the Iraq Occupation.
  • I support contraception as one way to reduce abortions.

That’s it. Questions welcomed, brickbats tolerated, profanity deleted.

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3 Responses

  1. Very thoughtful. I’m married to a social worker, who gets riled up from a “social justice” standpoint over “pro-life” zealots. One of her friends put it very succinctly: “These folks are not pro-life. They’re pro-birth.” I found Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s writings to be very helpful in my own walk down this road. For me, he’s the one who most clearly delineated the “pro-life” walk, as you say, from womb to tomb. Thanks for stepping out on this. Looking forward to a fruitful dialogue.

  2. Hi Zoom907, thanks both for stopping by and for getting this thread off to a positive start. I agree about Cardinal Bernadin’s writings. I also find the work and writings from the Catholic Worker Movement to be helpful.

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful observations. I look forward to the further discussion of this topic.

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