Some People Call It a “Choice” …

…which is a nice euphemism for homicide by mutilation. Don’t take my word for it: here’s how a former abortionist describes what he did.

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If you support abortion, you’re not allowed to look away. Sorry. You don’t get that privilege. You don’t get to wrap yourself in nice little slogans about “women’s rights” and “my body, my choice,” or the most nauseating one of all: “well, no one likes it, but…” If your oh-so-enlightened views are predicated upon the existence of horrible things happening in tiny rooms to people you don’t know, you should at least have the moral courage to understand what happens in those rooms. This applies as much to those on the right who support torture as it does to those on the left who support abortion.

In her fable “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” Ursula K. Le Guin offers her idea of a utopia. Her perfect world of perfect happiness can only be sustained by one child living in a locked, damp, darkened closet and subjected to constant abuse. The citizens all know this, and most accept this horror as the price for the world they live in.

But some cannot:

At times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go see the child does not go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also a man or a woman much older falls silent for a day or two, then leaves home. These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight outof the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman.

Night falls; the traveler must pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on out into the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

I’ve always felt that the point of LeGuin’s fable was this: the only people worthy of all that Omelas had to offer were the ones who could never have it, because they found the cost too high.

What Dr. Levatino describes does not happen to one child: it happens to over 3,000 human beings every day in the United States alone. Too many people accept this as a price of the world they live, or perhaps just the cost of their own moral and political views. Maybe they just haven’t looked hard enough. Maybe they don’t care, or have convinced themselves that this isn’t really a life, or at least not an important life, and certainly not one that feels pain: well, not much pain (probably), and certainly that pain is nothing measured against the inconvenience faced by the mother. Hard choices, you know. No one is “pro-abortion,” it’s a private matter, safe-legal-and-rare … well, you know all the lies. People can convince themselves of all kinds of things. People used to convince themselves that Jews and blacks weren’t actually human. They’ve progressed beyond that. Now they’ve convinced themselves that humans aren’t even human.

It’s hard to change a deeply-held conviction, and abortion is a hard subject to change your mind about. In her story, LeGuin emphasizes that the people who walk away, do so alone. She uses the word “alone” three times in two paragraphs, and emphases the darkness, fear, and unknown elements of what they face by making their choice. So much of our self-identity and politics and relationships are bound up in our beliefs on subjects just like this. It’s a frightening thing to change your views so radically on such a volatile subject. It certainly wasn’t easy for me.

Yes, I used to be one of those loathsome “well, no one likes it, but …” people, and that was the worst possible position to take, because I was admitting that it was a horrifying thing but saying it should continue anyway. I acknowledged injustice and brutality, and said, “I’m okay with that.” I gazed upon the child in the basement closet of Omelas and decided his misery is a fair price to pay for the world I lived in. It took time–years, in fact–but I finally looked a little harder in that closet, and I became one of the ones who walked away.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • victor

    That’s really quite a beautiful and haunting passage you quoted, there. I’m not familiar with Ursula K. Le Guin’s work, but I’ll work to rectify that now!

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    Here’s the whole story: http://harelbarzilai.org/words/omelas.txt

    I offer it with a caution: her idea of “utopia” is not mine, and it often wavers between silly and offensive.

  • Oregon Catholic

    Good post.
    “Yes, I used to be one of those loathsome “well, no one likes it, but …” people, and that was the worst possible position to take, because I was admitting that it was a horrifying thing but saying it should continue anyway.”

    I think you have written a good description Rev 3:16:
    “So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit (vomit) you out of my mouth.”

  • James

    I remember reading that story a while ago, and it’s incredibly applicable to what you are saying. She left enough generality, and a few outright statements, that say that you can imagine Omelas to be whatever you want it to be. It could be full of orgies, or not. It could have clergy, or not. The point of her story isn’t what the utopia looked like, specifically. It’s about the cost.

  • Chris Thelen

    Thank you for your courage. This is an all out war for souls. God, hear the cry of your children!!

  • http://moralmindfield.wordpress.com Brian Green

    I became pro-life when, during my two years as a Jesuit Volunteer high school teacher in the Marshall Islands, one of my students asked me in class “Mr. Green, is it true that in the United States parents kill their children?” I made a face like they were crazy and said “What? No, of course not!” Then the slam “No, Mr. Green, I mean before they are born.” And I had to admit that was true. And suddenly the US looked like one of the most insane places on Earth. (The fact that the US left 10% of the Marshalls uninhabitable due to nuclear testing and that I was living on a ballistic missile range didn’t help either).

  • http://rujutax.blogspot.in/ RX

    “Maybe they don’t care, or have convinced themselves that this isn’t really a life, or at least not an important life, and certainly not one that feels pain: well, not much pain (probably), and certainly that pain is nothing measured against the inconvenience faced by the mother. Hard choices, you know. No one is “pro-abortion,” it’s a private matter, safe-legal-and-rare … well, you know all the lies.”

    Very rightly put… The worst is when the defend by saying that the mother’s life and future are more important and hence the child has to be sacrificed for the same…

  • D’Arcy

    Excellent article. I have always been puzzled by President Clinton’s promise to make abortion “safe, legal and rare.” If abortion is such a good thing, why should he want it to be rare?

    On a related note, last night’s failed vote in the House of Representatives to ban sex-selective abortions was a massive exercise in abortion doublethink. I was dumbfounded to watch Democrat after Democrat denounce the ban (which addresses a statistically demonstrable problem in the United States) as another step in the Republican War on Women. I can’t comprehend such weapons-grade levels of cognitive dissonance.

  • Pattie, RN

    “Weapons-grade levels of cognitive dissonance”….brilliant descrition. Hope you don’t mind if I borrow it for use in addressing the pro-death double-speakers!

  • D’Arcy

    I have to credit Tom for the “weapons-grade” tagline, since he used in the context of something being “weapons-grade crazy”.

  • Pingback: America’s moral schizophrenia « agnus dei – english + romanian blog

  • Mark

    Brilliant, simply brilliant!


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