A Precarious “Angle of Repose”

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. My family is on vacation. While we are gone I’ll be running articles from the past 12 months that you’ve indicated you particularly enjoyed. Dave

We tend to think that opinions on abortion are essentially etched in stone. And it is true that many people think they have their minds made up.

But this is an illusion. Most people have not thought the issue through in any serious way. What they have is an inclination to which they cling to out of habit. Properly educated, they can be moved.

Let me explain by quoting a passage from author Philip Yancey in one of his recent books. Although it is about another subject, the basic insight is highly relevant to our discussion.

“In the mountains where I live, geologists and miners use the elegant term ‘angle of repose’ to describe the precise angle at which a boulder will rest on the side of a hill, rather than tumble downward. …Every so often one of these boulders breaks loose, releasing the potential energy in a crashing rockslide that permanently alters the landscape. Something similar happens in an avalanche, when an accumulation of tiny, almost weightless snowflakes breaks loose.”

That is how I see most people’s posture on abortion. Not dug in and immovable but precariously perched in a way that the slightest push can send it moving in a pro-life direction.

For many people, the long debate over partial-birth abortion permanently altered their interior landscape. That sent them racing away from self-identifying as “pro-choice” to pro-life.

Of course, not everyone will react to the same set of facts or in the same way.

For others–many others–it may be a gentle persuader. For instance, seeing an ultrasound picture of their baby–or any baby–becomes the final “snowflake” that sets off an avalanche of revulsion against abortion.

For still others, it will be something so awful it sucks the very air out of their lungs. For example, the realization that unborn babies at 20 weeks can feel pain releases the potential pro-life energy that resides within each of them.

There is a reason pro-abortionists reacted so hysterically to passage of Nebraska’s “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” They understand (far better than we do, I suspect) that abortion’s “angle of repose” has always been precariously balanced.

It is even more so now.

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