Roe at 40

“Picture a football stadium that holds 55,000 people, and then multiply that to 1,000 such filled stadiums, and you’ll have an idea of how many human beings we have lost, how many babies have been killed, since the Roe v. Wade decision 40 years ago.”

That stunning statement left a radio talk show host speechless for a moment, when my guest put a visual to the idea people have long lost sight of in the word ‘abortion.’ Or its terminology.

John Morales is the producer/director of the documentary film 40, a film that “will present the argument that abortion is not merely a religious or political issue but the most important fundamental human and civil rights issue of our times,” he said.

Lila Rose told me the same thing, of course because she has stood for and worked for that belief for a long time in her young life. She’s dynamic, courageous, creative, dedicated and determined to attract people to the truth and beauty of human life and the deception of the abortion industry. Live Action posted this intruiging list of questions to ask and answer on the anniversary of Roe.

FOR ABORTION SUPPORTERS

If there is uncertainty as to when individual life begins, should we error on the side of protecting life or discarding life?

Which right is more fundamental, the right to not be killed or the right to not be pregnant?

Does it concern you that everyone who supports abortion is no longer threatened by it?

Have you considered the fact that the arguments used to justify abortion were once used to justify slavery?

I make that anology a lot, myself. It’s so clear and direct and apt.

There are questions there for pro-life advocates.

If your grandkids ask you someday what you did to combat abortion, will you have anything to tell them?

If an outside observer were to secretly examine your life, specifically how you invest your time and money, would they conclude that abortion is a grave injustice or no big deal?

If all abortion-opponents responded to abortion as you do, would that help or hurt the cause?

Would you be doing more to combat abortion if the lives of your own children hung in the balance?

Is it more important to believe that abortion is wrong or to act like abortion is wrong?

If it was your life that was threatened by fatal violence, would you want advocates who politely held their tongue, or advocates who actually spoke up in your defense?

And more…

A site called The Gospel Coalition posted 64 questions for this anniversary, or presumably any other day people might engage a conversation or debate about abortion. Which is a good idea anytime.

A random sample…

What shall we call the unborn in the womb?

If the entity is a living thing, is it not a life?

So when does a human being have a right to life?

Shall we make intellectual development and mental capacity the measure of our worth?

Are three year-old children less valuable than thirteen year-olds?

Is the unborn child less than fully human because he cannot speak or count or be self-aware?

Does the cooing infant in the crib have to smile or shake your hand or recite the alphabet before she deserves another day?

If an expression of basic mental acuity is necessary to be a full-fledged member of the human community, what shall we do with the comatose, the very old, or the fifty year-old mom with Alzheimer’s?

Eric Metaxas gets down to the bare facts, stripped of euphemism and terminology. Here’s The Naked Evil of Abortion, his commentary at Breakpoint.

The numbers related to abortion are almost anesthetizing to the conscience of America. Since 1973, more than 55 million unborn babies have had their lives snuffed out.

These numbers are so mind-numbing that perhaps we in the pro-life movement may be forgiven if we occasionally forget what those numbers actually mean.

John Morales helped though, with his visual of the thousand football stadiums…

Look if you will, says Metaxas, or look anyway, because you should see.

That’s why we occasionally need a reality check—such as a brand new documentary called “3801 Lancaster.” It’s available for free online, come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to it. The title refers to the address of an abortion clinic in West Philadelphia that is the site of a scandal so horrific that it’s almost impossible to describe without tears.

The documentary, written and directed by David Altrogge, shows what happened at the so-called Women’s Medical Society over a period of twenty years. That clinic, run by a well-known doctor named Kermit Gosnell and situated in a rough neighborhood, catered to a mostly poor, minority clientele. The documentary shows how the facility, which looks run down on the outside, was a filthy house of horrors on the inside.

Yes, Dr. Gosnell specialized in late-term abortions, but that’s a rather antiseptic description compared with the grisly reality. Walls and beds were stained with blood. Jars were filled with what are gingerly called “fetal remains”—arms, legs, you get the idea. It gets worse, and I hate to be so graphic.

But that’s what it takes for some people to see.

How, you might well ask, did authorities allow this carnage to go on for so many years? According to the grand jury report, the Pennsylvania state department of health, in order to remove “barriers” to abortion, had stopped inspecting abortion clinics. And no one cared anyway, because most of the women were poor and members of minority groups. In fact, “3801 Lancaster” makes it very clear that African-Americans and other minorities are specifically targeted by the abortion industry, making abortion one of the key civil rights issues of our time.

So while numbers are important, indeed inescapable, in the battle for human dignity, sometimes we and our neighbors have to see the naked evil and cruelty of abortion with our own eyes.

Post-election ruminations

And they are revealing. Not only about what went wrong for champions of one candidate, much of one party and many advocates of important causes, but how to learn from that. High level disagreement there…

Take this Public Discourse piece.

A common trope in social policy debates is to claim that the public’s changing opinion on the policy at stake, rather than the policy’s moral or substantive justifications, merits changing the platform of one’s preferred political party. This notion seems recently to have taken root on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, and several commentators have reacted.

Consider its November 8 editorial extolling referendums on marriage. The editors argue that views on “gay marriage” are changing so that “after 32 defeats at the ballot box, a gay marriage initiative was adopted by voters,” which shows that Americans are “capable of changing their views and the laws on gay marriage.” They praise the referendum process over judicial fiat, but their implicit premise seems to be that the policy change is a good one. Any substantive arguments to support this view are missing; what remains is only the claim of an inexorable shift in public opinion.

Now there’s a good point. I keep saying that we need a robust and honest public airing of different views on a number of social issues and public policies, with opposite arguments made and defended, so people can engage the fullness of the issues and the ramifications of their outcomes. You know, follow an idea through to its logical conclusion. Engage critical thinking. We’re not getting much of that in any widely accessed public forum, with few exceptions.

Ross Douthat comments on all this, and does some dot-connecting in this op-ed piece.

Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

Likewise with the growing number of unmarried Americans, especially unmarried women. Yes, social issues like abortion help explain why these voters lean Democratic. But the more important explanation is that single life is generally more insecure and chaotic than married life, and single life with children — which is now commonplace for women under 30 — is almost impossible to navigate without the support the welfare state provides.

Or consider the secular vote, which has been growing swiftly and tilts heavily toward Democrats. The liberal image of a non-churchgoing American is probably the “spiritual but not religious” seeker, or the bright young atheist reading Richard Dawkins. But the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general.

What unites all of these stories is the growing failure of America’s local associations — civic, familial, religious — to foster stability, encourage solidarity and make mobility possible…

This is a great flaw in the liberal vision, because whatever role government plays in prosperity, transfer payments are not a sufficient foundation for middle-class success. It’s not a coincidence that the economic era that many liberals pine for — the great, egalitarian post-World War II boom — was an era that social conservatives remember fondly as well: a time of leaping church attendance, rising marriage rates and birthrates, and widespread civic renewal and engagement.

No such renewal seems to be on the horizon. That isn’t a judgment on the Obama White House, necessarily. But it is a judgment on a certain kind of blithe liberal optimism, and the confidence with which many Democrats assume their newly emerged majority is a sign of progress rather than decline.

As for conservatives, they’re having a necessary and not necessarily bad wrestling match within their ranks over big ideas and changing realities and criticism both constructive and very unhelpful.

Back to that Public Discourse piece:

To the extent then that the Republican Party appears to abandon its rightward stance on social issues; to the extent that Republicans are afraid to defend their views on the value of life, on religious freedom, and on marriage, they cede back the Reagan Democrats and their children to the Democrats, and they doom themselves to minority status.

These practical realities have not been lost on conservatives, and several important commentators have sounded the alarm. At First Things Matthew Franck cogently compares the Wall Street Journal’s urgings that we abandon our social principles to the cynical political maneuvering of Stephen Douglas on the slavery issue a century and a half ago. Franck notes that had Abraham Lincoln succumbed to the apparent expediency of falling into line with Douglas’s arguments, slavery likely would have persisted…

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, policy has worked, does work, and will work best when it is founded on moral and practical arguments. The Republican Party’s defense of freedom and dignity is based on both.

And more, because as Eric Metaxas puts it so well in so few words, logic is not enough.