With the passing of Roe v. Wade’s 41st anniversary, various Christian sites have been offering pieces on abortion—the continuing, incremental struggle to see progress on a state level, the fruits of activism in the trenches, and more. My favorite by far is Owen Strachan’s inspiring, convicting piece on how he personally became an engaged participant in the pro-life battle. There have also been various discussions on rhetoric and strategy. Abby Johnson’s data on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of holding graphic signs outside a clinic is particular interesting.
On the one hand, the author, Julia Herrington, is refreshingly candid about the balancing act of pro-life feminism. She writes:
Secretly, I’ve always felt that abortion wasn’t ideal and maybe not even right. But it’s complicated to believe that when you’re a feminist, and it’s certainly not something you profess publicly. Who am I to presume to know what is right for another woman? Am I, as a feminist, willing to assert that abortion isn’t right? Would I not be robbing women of authority over their own personhood, something women have fought arduously for, for far too long? A year ago, I would have rather been caught barefoot in the kitchen, in an apron with red lipstick on my mouth, baking for all the boys, a caricature of the “problem without a name” rather than to be found in close proximity to the pro-life camp.
Perhaps, then, we shouldn’t be surprised that when the light bulb finally came on for her while working at a Pregnancy Resource Center, it was still filtered through a feminist lens: “As I considered these issues in the last year, my perspective changed dramatically because I determined that abortion does not actually benefit women.”
What is missing from this picture?
I’m not saying there is nothing in this piece to acknowledge the humanity of the unborn. I’m also not denying the need for a conversation about the larger issues of gender and sexuality that surround their mass slaughter. Herrington correctly points out that these things are inseparably linked. By encouraging young couples to embrace sexual responsibility, we are encouraging God’s design for healthy procreation. We also recognize that abortion is a brutal suppression of God’s design for womanhood, and thereby the exact opposite of “liberation” for a woman. At the same time, I take issue with Herrington’s thesis that we must constantly find “new” ways to engage in the abortion debate. This implies that “old” ways are somehow outdated, or at most “other good arguments” rather than the best. Presumably this would include arguing straight from the status of the unborn child as an innocent human being. It also implies that the concept of being pro-baby and pro-woman is somehow fresh. I can’t help wondering how old Herrington is, because the Reagan generation could tell you that “love them both” rhetoric goes a long way back.
In all our rhetoric about abortion, let us never concede to the pretentious nonsense of the word “complicated.” Let us not even concede as far as the word “tragedy.” Let us never concede that there can ever be a “thoughtful” way to advocate the taking of innocent life. And however deeply and widely we explore the consequences and causes of abortion, let the horror, the horror of newborn bloodshed be first in our hearts, first in our minds.