Other Patheos writers have covered the various controversies involving politics and abortion in the US capitol this month—so I shall limit myself to a few brief words on why abortion continues to be a divisive and contentious topic, why acceptance of abortion is unlikely to become universal anytime soon.
Walker Percy said it well, three decades ago: science is on the side of the embryonic human.
It takes irrational faith of a peculiar sort to know what we do about embryology and yet draw the line of personhood at the arbitrary point of birth.
The current con, perpetrated by some jurists, some editorial writers, and some doctors is that since there is no agreement about the beginning of human life, it is therefore a private religious or philosophical decision and therefore the state and the courts can do nothing about it. This is a con. I will not presume to speculate who is conning whom and for what purpose. But I do submit that religion, philosophy, and private opinion have nothing to do with this issue. I further submit that it is a commonplace of modern biology, known to every high school student and no doubt to you the reader as well, that the life of every individual organism, human or not, begins when the chromosomes of the sperm fuse with the chromosomes of the ovum to form a new DNA complex that thenceforth directs the ontogenesis of the organism.
Abortion is the atrocity of our age, and like most atrocities the horror of it is excused and ignored for the sake of the ‘good’ it is supposed to procure—a good, I might add, that has yet to materialize. We are not more welcoming, children are not better cared for, marriages are not saved, rape and sexual exploitation not eliminated.
We don’t need to look much farther than the character of the new President of the United States to understand that we haven’t come nearly far enough in improving attitudes toward women.
What the hell good is a “freedom” that is won by trampling on the weakest and smallest? What kind of second-hand cast-off “rights” are we settling for when we accept the “right” to kill our children as a substitute for a society that is just and merciful towards mothers and their children?
We are in a time of change, when old alliances and paradigms are shifting. I hope this will be for the good over the long run. But even as we explore different ways of being pro-life, even as we look for different ways to reach out to women and support children, even as we look for common ground wherever there’s ground to be gained, it is important, I think, that we not lose sight of this: abortion is a violent, substandard, and unacceptable answer to the problems it is proposed to solve.
We need to do better.