Abortion at the Core of Both Left and Right

Written by Auguste Meyrat

Whether Americans like it or not, abortion has become the defining issue of the two main parties.  A Democrat can be many things – a moderate; a corporatist; or a shrill, uninformed socialist – but he must be pro-choice, as shown in the recent move to repeal the pro-life Mexico City policy, which prevents foreign aid going to organizations that fund or encourage abortions.  The same applies to the Republicans, who range from government-friendly “moderates” to staunch say-no-to-all-spending libertarians but who all must try to uphold the rights of the unborn – except Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), who apparently thinks cursive is more important than saving infants with a heartbeat.

Considering the respective platforms of each party, this sometimes places political leaders and their constituents in strange places.  It seems odd that Democrats, who claim to champion the poor and people of color, support a procedure that decimates those very communities and accounted for a staggering 41 million deaths worldwide in 2018.  For Republicans who claim to advocate for freedom and limited government, it also seems odd, at least on principle, to limit parents’ freedom in planning their families.

The division makes more sense within the context of morality than politics.  Democrats espouse a materialist secular morality that stresses quality of life over the sanctity of life.  This means they believe there is a point for individuals when life is not worth living, usually in cases of poverty, sickness, or suffering, which then makes it permissible to terminate that life.  By contrast, Republicans have embraced the Christian/Natural Law morality, which contends that all human beings have the right to life, regardless of circumstance.

Unlike most, if not all, other issues, abortion has no gray areas.  One must pick a side and work on winning over the other side.  Compromise and moderation are not an option.

Nor is “agreeing to disagree” an option, which is where problems start.  At its core, the pro-life movement believes that babies are people entitled to a right to life, while the pro-choice movement does not acknowledge the personhood of the unborn child.  Taken a step farther, pro-lifers consequently believe that abortion is murder, that the millions of abortions that have already happened equate to the worst genocide in history, and that people who continue to support abortion endorse a grave evil.  As long as the practice of abortion continues, pro-choicers have to find a way to respond to this charge, whether they like it or not.

So far, there have been three ways that the pro-choice movement has responded: (1) repent and join the pro-life movement, (2) argue and rationalize abortion, or (3) fight back.  In the first case, the pro-life cause can claim some success, having won over key figures in abortion (including the very woman who was involved in Roe v. Wade) and making the elimination of abortion a key component in the GOP platform and politics in general.  In the second kind of response, pro-choicers have adopted every possible argument to rationalize and justify abortion.  Mainly, they argue that it empowers and liberates women (because babies are a burden) and enables economic mobility for the poor (again, because babies are a burden).  Arguments of the Malthusian and eugenic variety often linger in the background, but only bioethicists have the clout to openly make them in polite company.

The third way to respond – to fight back and become militant – has come to characterize the pro-choice movement as a whole.  People who support abortion will use any means to break down the opposing side.  They will take legal action (even against nuns), organize smear campaigns, create laws about advertising abortion, and outlaw pro-life protests, and even break laws that might inhibit access to abortion.  They will celebrate their abortions at every opportunity, donate massive sums of money to abortion-providers, and treat the right to kill one’s child as sacred.  Unlike the second group of pro-choicers, they do not use arguments or bring up extenuating circumstances that may justify abortion as though it were a difficult choice (this would show weakness); they simply get mad and use force against the people who oppose abortion in any way.

Most pro-lifers scratch their heads at this reaction.  Why celebrate something that is traumatic for the mother and kills the baby?  It’s understandable (though wrong) that people excuse abortion, but it’s disgusting, if not positively demonic, that people tout it as a great thing – as shown in this disturbing commercial from Planned Parenthood or “Shout Your Abortion” founder Amelia Bonow talking to young children about her abortion.

What’s lost in this thinking is the massive pressure that keeps pro-choicers from changing their position.  One would first have to admit to committing or abetting a great evil.  This necessarily produces great guilt and need for penance, which people are less and less willing to accept in today’s comfortable world.  Moreover, one would have to break away from his peers who still hold fast to legal abortions, risking becoming a pariah.  As it is in politics, so too in people’s households and social circles: saying yes to life in general means saying no to one’s own life in particular.  It’s also difficult to stay friends with people who you believe enable and engage in what amounts to murder.

Pro-life advocates will often compare the abortion debate to the debate over slavery, and rightly so.  Both concern fundamental rights (the right to life and liberty), both allow no compromise, and both have to contend with flawed court cases that legalize something morally wrong (Roe v. Wade and Dred Scott v. Sandford).  Pro-choicers even use the same logic as anti-abolitionists, and many ponder the same state-by-state solution to the whole matter.  Whether both issues will conclude in an American civil war remains to be seen, but it would be naïve to rule out the possibility of violence erupting – mainly from the pro-choice camp.

Everything depends on how the pro-life movement proceeds.  Its members hold the high ground in terms of morality and logic, but they also need to have the courage to confront the inevitable resistance.  Victory will not come easily, and praying that a political victory or winning a public debate will overturn the pro-choice movement is foolishness.  The pro-life movement will need to continue the hard, often thankless work of appealing to, while fighting, their fellow Americans to protect the unborn.  In this sense, it truly is like a civil war, where the enemy is one’s brother and sister, and the most loving thing one can do is defeat the enemy in battle – something Lincoln famously argued in his second inaugural address.

The costs will be high, and many will feel discouraged, but if it means saving the lives of millions of future children and promoting a culture of life, then it is all worth it.

Auguste Meyrat is an English teacher in the Dallas area. He is the editor of The Everyman and has also written essays for The Federalist and The American Conservative. Follow him on Twitter.

This article was originally published at AmericanThinker.com.