“Thinking about Abortion” but Missing the Boat

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

I’ve written a couple of times about a conference that took place at Princeton in October, the title of which was “Open Hearts, Open Minds and Fair-Minded Words.” (For example www.nrlc.org/News_and_Views/Oct10/nv102610part3.html) I return to it again today and will once more later this week.

Why? The first time I posted on the conference was because of the sheer brilliance of philosopher John Finnis, who debated Prof. Peter Singer and Prof. Maggie Little in an October 15 panel discussion, the topic of which was “the moral status of the fetus.” I’m taking another whack at the debate today because of a piece that I just ran across at Salon.com written by Frances Kissling, former president of the pro-abortion organization “Catholics for a Free Choice.”

It’s a long post (“How to think about abortion”) that covers a host of topics. Space allows for a look at only two of the many arguments Kissling makes.

By way of preface, who could disagree for a call for civility? That it is not productive to label those who disagree with us (in Kissling’s words) as either “stupid or evil.”

But that is not the same thing as clearly articulating WHY we believe pro-abortionists are wrong and WHY their “answer” to a crisis pregnancy is no answer at all.

My two points are these. First, Kissling believes that then-candidate Obama was onto something when discussing the abortion issue. “Obama’s way of talking about abortion, separate from his policy actions, was and is brilliant,” she writes.

But that sentence says all there is to say. While occasionally Obama did and does talk about complexity and recognizing this or that, the proof of the pudding is in the eating–or, in this case, his “policy actions” on abortion.

He’s followed the pro-abortion playbook, page by page, up to and including ObamaCare. What substantive evidence is there that Obama seeks “common ground”? None.

But by rhetorically making a nod in that direction, it allows Obama to figuratively throw his hands up in the air and asks (for effect) what can you do with these people?

Second, Kissling writes a lot about “the singular focus” of pro-choicers and pro-lifers–on the woman and unborn children, respectively. She does concede that we do care about women, but for the wrong reason: to “protect women from themselves.”

Really? Think of the women pro-lifers see at Crisis Pregnancy Centers. No one who has worked there more than one night could possibly be under the illusion that these women (more often girls) are freely acting out a decision they have independently arrived at. In almost all cases, they are under tremendous pressure–coercion–to abort. Come on, let’s get real.

Kissling likes to make fun of pro-lifers for supposedly denying that women are “moral agents.” We do nothing of the kind.

But we don’t confuse the simple fact that the ultimate decision is made by the woman [girl] with the reality that she often is under pressure to abort so powerful that it takes superhuman strength to resist. And that typically she has received little or no counsel or encouragement to continue her pregnancy.

To come full circle, the issue is not whether name-calling gets you anywhere. It gets you anywhere.

The issue is whether the “solution” to a woman in crisis is to facilitate the death of her unborn child or find a solution that helps them both.

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