The tragedy of abortion absolutism and how the pro-life movement can respond

Demonstrators who support legal abortion gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the 46th annual March for Life Jan. 18 in Washington. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) 

The stark reality of abortion entered public consciousness this week to a degree not seen in years. Americans were just beginning to understand how radical New York’s Reproductive Health Act, passed on Jan. 22, really was. At the same time, a Virginia state delegate acknowledged, during a legislative hearing, that the bill she had proposed to loosen regulation of late-term abortions would in fact allow abortion up until the moment of delivery. The governor of Virginia, himself a pediatric neurosurgeon, addressed the same issue on a radio show. He explained that it was more likely that such a case, involving a baby with severe deformities or who was expected to be nonviable, would result in a delivery but that the child would only be resuscitated if the mother and family desired. His clinical discussion of choosing to allow an infant to die shocked many. And while it did not attract as much attention, the governor of Rhode Island vowed to sign a similar bill in her state.

As we pointed out earlier this month, with Roe v. Wade under potential threat at the Supreme Court, pro-choice activists are pushing to have its effects codified into state law—and sometimes trying to expand access to abortion at the same time. This challenge calls for careful discernment from the pro-life movement. The fact that some consciences are being woken to recognize the tragedy of abortion is an opportunity for pro-lifers to broaden the circle of those who are willing to support pregnant women and be concerned for unborn children.

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Here are three ways to engage this challenge constructively:

First, take great care to be clear, accurate and fair in describing the bad effects of these laws. They are shocking enough without any exaggeration. Also, veterans of pro-life work are not surprised that the controversies over these laws are already being described in terms of “attacks” on the politicians arguing for them. While there is no easy way to achieve fair media coverage of the moral concerns about abortion, it is still important to do what is possible to avoid the most predictable media bias. Some commentators immediately equated the Virginia governor’s remarks to “infanticide,” which the governor described as a bad-faith interpretation—and that allowed the news cycle to turn to parsing the criticism of the governor rather than keeping the focus on the moral question.

Second, be proactive about acknowledging and engaging the best possible motives behind even these very bad laws and resist the temptation to demonize those who support them. Many pro-choice advocates point out—accurately—that the late-term abortions to which these laws expand access are rare and usually connected to tragic diagnoses of fetal abnormality, maternal risk or the expectation that a child will die shortly after birth. Instead of relying solely on blunt, accurate descriptions of the violence of late-term abortions, pro-lifers should give even more emphasis to compassionate care for both mother and child in these terrible circumstances. Options such as perinatal hospice, which provides support and care for the mother, infant and family in situations where a child is expected to die before or shortly after birth, should be much better known. Efforts need to be made to guarantee that they are presented as part of the standard of care and resourced well enough to be available wherever needed. Too often, silence about these possibilities leads to the false choice between late-term abortion and “forcing” a mother to give birth.

Third, legislative efforts to defeat and reverse these laws should be paired with opportunities to reach across the aisle and work for reforms that will help expectant parents and make it easier for them to choose to bring their children into the world. This is not a retreat from the effort to protect unborn children in law—it is a recognition that pro-lifers should be willing to use every practical means to support and defend the dignity of life. If legal limits on abortion are connected to increases in support for parental leave and protections against pregnancy discrimination, they can potentially attract a much wider base of support. Such an approach is not only a chance for real policy improvements, but also a potential opening to win minds and hearts to recognize the value of every human life at all stages of development.

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Terry Kane
9 months 2 weeks ago

It appears that many on this site are being political rather than religious.
Religion should be considered first.
In the past Christianity has ended slavery, make sure women's suffrage became the rule, provided equal rights to minorities, came up with capitalism, and so we can see that religion can have great effects on society for the good.
Perhaps here we can consider ways to make society better for ALL people, already born AND not yet born.

Crystal Watson
9 months 2 weeks ago

Christianity *practiced* slavery . The Georgetown Jesuits owned slaves. Bishops in the US owned slaves. Slave owners used the bible to justify slavery.

Terry Kane
9 months 1 week ago

And your point is????

Crystal -
ALL groups believed in slavery at some time.
Do you not acknowledge that Christianity ended slavery?
You are aware that Democrats fought Republicans to keep slavery legal in the US, right?
The KKK was the terrorist arm of the Democrat Party.
Democrats instituted Jim Crow laws throughout the South. Yet, you probably are a Democrat, and probably claim to be a Catholic.
The history you posted may be true, however, more recent events make it of no consequence to this discussion.

Crystal Watson
9 months 1 week ago

I thought your point was that religion was sooo much better than politics.

Terry Kane
9 months 1 week ago

What was your point about Jesuits, bishops and slavery? Perhaps you had none, but you just wanted to demean Christianity.

And what is the point of, "I thought your point was that religion was sooo much better than politics"? Do you believe that politics is better than religion?

Do you acknowledge that Christianity ended slavery in the Western world?

It seems you make strident assertions, but then become evasive and deflective when asked about your comments. Please try to focus and reply with a sensible response.

rose-ellen caminer
9 months 1 week ago

Christianity did not end slavery. Yes there were always some abolitionists, but Christianity justified slavery .As it did monarchy and feudalism .What ended slavery?Struggle of the people, and guilt maybe. Christianity created capitalism? Perhaps, the Calvinists did; "if you are rich you must be good, and so are favored by God with wealth" mindset that is still prevalent among the Right today. And for which we get the backlash movement of Democratic Socialism as needing to fix this extreme wealth disparity that corruptly hide behind "God's will".

Phillip Stone
9 months 1 week ago

Terry, you are asking too much.
So far, her contributions reveal the world view laid out below.
The masculine half of humanity is fundamentally incapable of leading and governing the followers of Jesus.
We must have female priests, bishops and popes - we must have married priests so that a wife can keep each priest in check.
The well-being and self-esteem of women is impossible to obtain unless they are left guiltless and unashamed while practising serial polygamy enabled by easy quick divorce and while using any sort of contraceptive practice they prefer and have abortions if pregnancy happens anyway.
You see, both Satan and Adam were to blame after all, it seems.

Terry Kane
9 months 1 week ago

Philip-
Right you are.
Also, ALL women must be believed (unless they are making claims against an elected Democrat).

Nora Bolcon
9 months 1 week ago

Actually Terry, once the church decides to interfere with civil law making in any country it has stepped into politics whether it wants to or not. Civil laws are made and upheld by politicians. I agree it should be only the morality of abortion and not the legality that the church should speak on but unfortunately our church leaders refuse to respect the ideals of separation of church and state. This in the long run hurts both church and state.

Nora Bolcon
9 months 1 week ago

H

Phillip Stone
9 months 2 weeks ago

From an absolutist, nut-job, fanatical old male - call a spade a spade and treat it accordingly.

Call killing a human, whatever sex, age, size and degree of independence and maturity is to be called murder.
Murder is to be legally forbidden.
Severe penalties are to be established for murder.
The law against murder is to be relentlessly enforced.

First - all the staff at abortion clinics and all women's reproductive staff at public and private clinical establishments arrested and tried for murder.

This will not stop abortions any more than the law already stops murder amongst the adult population, it will signal to all and sundry that it is wrong, it is a crime, any breach of the law will expose you to the full force of the law, it will not be an answer to an unwanted pregnancy without jeopardy.

I guarantee there will be far less of them, however.

Dominic Deus
9 months 2 weeks ago

Dominic Deus here,

Phillip, I appreciate you owning your own opinion but should we men not consider the possibility that similarly situated old women might tell us we have no idea what we are talking about, having never been pregnant and not had to even think about it and therefore could we please just shut up? And listen to women for a change?

Dominic

Phillip Stone
9 months 1 week ago

I do not subscribe to situational ethics, and if I am not mistaken, understand that situational ethics is incompatible with New Testament morality.

Phillip Stone
9 months 1 week ago

Well, how you have avoided it I do not know, but I have been subjected to the scolding and complaining and nagging and bullying of females for more than seventy five years.

Two grandmothers feuding about unfair access to their grand-children, a mother and four aunts (one a nun) complaining about their lot and about men and about the burden and nuisance of children and how terrible it was to have such long school holidays with so many children underfoot and you wait until I tell your father what you have done when he gets home from work to give you a thrashing and the horrible protestant neighbours and the terrible state of the world, nun after nun frightening and bullying us in primary school treating boy behaviour as bad behaviour, four sisters and more than a dozen female cousins teasing and quarrelling and fighting and gossiping and later girlfriends and hospital matrons and my children's female teachers ... not to mention the temptations from lovely lasses using any and all of their feminine wiles!
Aaaaahrrrr!
The first commandment of the female to everybody else
-*** I MUST BE LISTENED TO ***-

Nope, ladies: He must be listened to and when we do that, we often hear a contrary position.

Nora Bolcon
9 months 1 week ago

I guess haters do really gotta hate. Phillip I think you need to take a snack break. And this comment from Phillip is proof positive that men are the most emotional humans who can't manage to filter their feelings in the least and are far more irrational in their arguments while they constantly blame women like Adam did for their own many annoying faults.
Actually No Phillip it is just proof positive about only your weaknesses. I do not intend to blame all men for your hate filled and sexist attitude of heart which Jesus would reprove you for keeping. And right we definitely need women priests bishops and Pope's because look what happens when we don't have them. You actually believe that hate rant you just wrote was a Christian statement. Yikes!

Phillip Stone
9 months ago

Pity you know so little of the bible stories.
Satan did tempt Eve, Eve did tempt Adam, Adam succumbed to the temptation and all humankind fell into jeopardy as a result.

Our infallible and consistent teaching received and passed on calls the above ADAM'S SIN.
I acknowledge that as truth, certain truth, unchangeable truth.
I do not call that FEMALE SEXISM, female chauvinistic error biased against males. I accept it as revealed truth which makes it obvious that there is a significant difference between what God expects of a man and what he expects of a woman and He is warning men to be vigilant and not fall for the wiles or harping of women just to keep the peace.
The buck stops with we males as headship is conferred and expected. It is a burden, a service and nothing like an unfair privilege.

And incidentally, I completely agree with your assertion that males are more emotional than females.
The most glorious art and poetry and music are generated by males. What we have to do is therefore clear, we must not let ourselves be carried away by emotion while at the same time no quenching our emotionality or that of our sons and brothers.
Thus we can act with passion, not out of passion and thus remain within the constraints of the moral law.

Dominic Deus
9 months 2 weeks ago

Dominic Deus here,

Phillip, I appreciate you owning your own opinion but should we men not consider the possibility that similarly situated old women might tell us we have no idea what we are talking about, having never been pregnant and not had to even think about it and therefore could we please just shut up? And listen to women for a change?

Dominic

Judith Jordan
9 months 1 week ago

Phillip Stone--
Why would you arrest and prosecute the staff for murder and not the woman who gets the abortion? That is not logical or fair.

Phillip Stone
9 months 1 week ago

In the legal profession theory and practice, likelihood of conviction is a key issue.
Those with blood on their hands are more likely to be convicted.
Also, the butchers are mass-murderers and putting them out of business is going to prevent these killers from doing it for the duration of their punishment.

What has logic or fairness got to do with anything? - those are arguments for children in school yards.

Nora Bolcon
9 months 1 week ago

All evidence has already shown on a global scale that restricting abortion access equates to many more abortions occurring and does nothing to decrease unwanted pregnancy. You need birth control for that issue. Yes I know Phillip you hate facts and evidence and reason or truth but other people like those things.

Kathleen Chafin
9 months 1 week ago

The New York RHA added only one word to their previous law adding "health" of the mother. And was in response to the fear of Roe being overturned. Reading the comments here, often mentioning Democrat or Republican just reflects how political religion has become. What has been ignored is the everything called for; compassion for mother and child. I became ill in late pregnancy which weirdly ignorantly doctor until it was crisis level. My live was saved when my near full term fetus tragically died. Rather than inducing labor my doctor insisted on waiting for natural delivery in his words "A couple days" that turned into over two weeks. Rapid labor then with a nurse pulling in a doctor from.The hallway to deliver a rotting corpse. Nurse throws towel over my face to avoid the grim site. Turns out,unknown to.me , the doctor was highly pro life (Mormon) and apologized with the explanation he felt a duty not to interfere in God's Work. That belief nearly cost my Life and probably to life of my son. That was my Second son. My first son was taken from myself and my fiance in forced adoption by a Jesuit priest. I was drugged to not recall the Birth (twilight sleep),tied hand and foot to the bed,not allowed to see or hold my son,the Jesuit gave him to his friends. Later I learned Jesuit Thomas Halley had done black and grey market adoptions over two decades and was deeply against abortion. Which oddly I had never considered. I lost two children I deeply wanted with interferance of two men, absolute moralists not unlike Inspector Javert. Now I work to.help.women keep their children with support without concern to.laws or judgment. Keep your. Absolutism to yourself.

Andrew Wolfe
9 months 1 week ago

Are the Editors so uninvolved with the pro-life movement that they are telling us to do what we have already been doing consistently for twenty years? Pro-life blind spots like "care for the mother" were identified and corrected in the 1990's. These suggestions are not bad but they seem to repeat outdated or otherwise unfair accusations against pro-lifers made by abortion advocates.

Nora Bolcon
9 months 1 week ago

You must be asleep sir. Most states have cut funding to welfare and many don't supply healthcare either. So what are you talking about?

Crystal Watson
9 months 1 week ago

The New York law doesn't expand Roe, it changes the previous New York law. Roe did not limit abortion to 24 weeks, but to fetal viability. Here's an article = No, New York abortion law doesn't let mothers abort babies a minute before they would be born

Crystal Watson
9 months 1 week ago

What is extreme is the pro-life position. You want to outlaw abortion even if there are fetal anomalies, even if the fetus is dead, even if the mother's health is at risk, even if the mother would die. That extreme attitude is what is producing all these laws/bills.

Phillip Stone
9 months 1 week ago

I started my medical life in a tertiary level teaching hospital. the top tier of medical expertise in Australia and it included Obstetric and Gynaecological wards and a Professorial Unit.
In my first seven years there, only one pregnant woman with breast cancer that could only be treated by damaging the child in the womb, was considered for the termination. The highly trained, expert and highly ethical senior Obstetric staff recommended termination but the woman declined in favour of her baby. Baby was born well and the mother survived for no less years for the delay in starting drastic treatment.

So Crystal, in the real world of real people, the choice between both mother and baby dying OR only the baby dying by termination is very rarely an actual issue.

The other key burning issue, suicide, is also misrepresented.
When large numbers of females are pregnant and threaten suicide or are in danger of suicide and have terminations are compared to females in the same condition who do NOT have a termination, the suicide rate in those who have had their baby terminated is LARGER than those who went ahead and had the baby.
Termination does NOT save lives.

Go to Google Scholar yourself, confirm my assertion or produce the proof that I am mistaken or lying.

Barry Fitzpatrick
9 months 1 week ago

The suggestions in this editorial would go a long way to bridging the divide that pits the sides here against each other, and it would lower the temperature of the flame of debate that encircles this issue. The best minds of religious thought can certainly do better than we have since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. We must get out of bed with one political party, an arrangement that has moved us NO closer to any solution. For years we have demonized the "other side" so as to bolster our argument. It has gotten us NOWHERE. Our job is to teach, preach, and live the sacred value of each and every human life from the moment that life begins until the moment it ends. Abortion is one piece of that pie. Until we align it along with racism, treatment of the elderly, care for those who are challenged, and all other life issues, we will continue to lose ground in a battle that may be over. Let's unite our minds and hearts in a respect life strategy that listens, reflects, prays, and acts, all in ways of which we can be proud, and let us, at the same time, end the demonizing nature of much of what we do politically regarding life issues. Also, let's not shop on this issue, let's go all in.

Charles Erlinger
9 months 1 week ago

The ferocity of some state legislators in promoting extreme abortion practices seems to be, as many have concluded, a fearful reaction to the prospect that the overturn of Roe v. Wade has moved from a remote possibility to an almost calculable probability. This reaction can be interpreted as a tacit recognition of the effectiveness of pro-life politics, and of the effectiveness of political strategies used.

At the same time, this reaction can also be interpreted as a manifestation of the ineffectiveness of pro-life evangelization. That pro-choice adherents by the millions champion the violation of the human right to life on the basis of an asserted greater right to choose is evidence of a deep cultural and moral chasm.

The chasm does not seem to be one that divides believers in one religion from believers in another, but rather, one that divides the understanding of one set of adherents to a philosophy, theology and anthropology from the understanding of another set of adherents to a different philosophy, theology and anthropology. And where this division exists in societies based on democratic forms of government, any attempt to bridge this divide has potentially serious constitutional consequences. What we seem to be faced with is a huge difference of conviction over conflicting human rights as well as conflicting views of freedom to exercise free will, while at the same time the exercise of the powers of moral persuasion is cast aside in favor of contests in the realm of political power.

Crystal Watson
9 months 1 week ago

The NY law isn't a reaction to the effectiveness of pro-life strategy. - i's a reaction to Trump stuffing the Supreme Court with his minions. Since the Republicans have been in power they have chipped away at Roe in the states but now that it may be overturned, the states must step up to keep what was in Roe extant. These laws/bills are not extreme .... they follow Roe ... they only seem extreme because we are so used to Republican held states imposing multiple restrictions on women's rights.

Robert Martin
9 months 1 week ago

Such an investigation is fundamental for genius decision endeavors to react successfully to this new technique, through strict replies dependent on proof, as well as through reactions that counter its ideological power. https://bit.ly/2t6bmY5

Crystal Watson
9 months 1 week ago

Facts about the New York law from FactCheck.org .... No, a baby born alive during an abortion is *NOT* killed or left to die, despite pro-life propaganda.

Phillip Stone
9 months 1 week ago

there are eye-witness accounts of this happening, Crystal; you need to prove that their testimony is propaganda rather than truth.

Crystal Watson
9 months 1 week ago

The law is the law - there is no reason for the government to lie about its policy. On the other hand, the pro-life movement has a history of lying. Believe what you want but that does not change the facts.

Phillip Stone
9 months 1 week ago

https://advancemed.com.au/mededhelp/mindfoam/what-is-a-personality-disorder-the-weird-the-wild-and-the-worried/

Kenneth Michaels
9 months 1 week ago

We are seeing the effects of a very profitable strategy for the Right to control the discourse and profit for decades. Our Catholic Church and bishops were sucked right into it with about half the Catholics. Not very forward thinkers. The Supreme Court is now essentially controlled by zealots and fascists and the battleground will shift to the states where our country will become even more divided. Stupid. Editors here may have some good ideas but there is no way anyone in the pro-life movement will follow these ideas. There's no money to be made here.

Kenneth Michaels
9 months 1 week ago

We are seeing the effects of a very profitable strategy for the Right to control the discourse and profit for decades. Our Catholic Church and bishops were sucked right into it with about half the Catholics. Not very forward thinkers. The Supreme Court is now essentially controlled by zealots and fascists and the battleground will shift to the states where our country will become even more divided. Stupid. Editors here may have some good ideas but there is no way anyone in the pro-life movement will follow these ideas. There's no money to be made here.

KATHERIN MARSH
9 months 1 week ago

I think it is too easy to get an abortion. I think that this ease has steam rolled our senses of doubt and boundaries. I wish the Supreme Court had thrown the issue to the states 50 years ago. I think if we sit around telling opurselves that these late term abortions are only for rare cases and hospital ethics boards, we miss the lessons about abortions of the last 50 years. Babies, whether, zygotes, embryoes, fetus or newborns a vulnerable population, stuck with the caprices of one woman who is on hormone overloads. Insanity.
This new 11th hour abortion law will also steam roll our sensibilities. In 50 more years we will insist that a woman who caries an "imperfect" child abort.

Crystal Watson
9 months 1 week ago

So a mother is incapable of deciding about her own pregnancy? Who would you replace her with? A Catholic church that sexually assaults children and then covers it up? A Trump administration that locks children in cages and has actually lost track of thousands of them?

Richard Heiden
9 months 1 week ago

--

Richard Heiden
9 months 1 week ago

Of course, abortion is horrible, but it’s as though politicians (in particular) think that it’s worse than post-birth kinds of death. So-called “pro-life” politicians disregard things that affect many more lives.

They are really ANTI-life in practically every other way--like food security, the environment, pollution, health care, gun violence, refugees, capital punishment, medical research, product safety, and worker safety.

Also, remember that even if abortions were made illegal, it wouldn’t totally stop abortions. (Of course, the incidence of abortions would be reduced, but there would be increased deaths among the women.) Whereas in the other areas, meaningful legislation would actually have positive results in saving many lives.

My criticism of “pro-life” politicians above means just the politicians, who use abortion as a wedge issue to get votes despite their other positions and policies. Voters—including possibly the majority of those who post here—may be “pro-life” in other ways too, and less hypocritical about it. But it’s a shame that well-meaning voters get suckered in by politicians with a “pro-life” façade. They end up voting for politicians whose values really oppose theirs.

J Jones
9 months 1 week ago

Well said, Richard.

Terry Kane
9 months 1 week ago

Richard -
You wrote, "Of course, the incidence of abortions would be reduced, but there would be increased deaths among the women."

Please read a post from Dr. Philip Stone above.

He knows what he's talking about, as opposed to you, Crystal and J.

Tim O'Leary
9 months 1 week ago

Richard - to acknowledge that abortion is horrible is a great step forward for your side, since it can only be thus if it recognizes the scientifically obvious fact that a little human being is being intentionally killed by a collusion of doctor and mother. And the sheer number of 800,000 just last year, if one understands math, brings this to holocaust levels of murder. But the rest of your post argues for keeping the holocaust going because those that recognize the holocaust are not demanding the government support every other item on your list. Imagine this for a moment as an argument against emancipation of the slaves or stopping Hitler or Stalin. No doubt there were abolitionists who weren't for all those things or the G.I.s in WW2 didn't support everything on your list. The problem is, in the end, that you are still arguing for maintaining the holocaust, and not even protecting children born alive through an intended abortion. Just think about what you are saying, next time you look at your children and in the mirror.

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